Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Islanders.
It was a tough home-and-home for the Pens as they came away with just one of four divisional points in the Metro matchup, but I thought this was a much stronger overall performance compared to their 6-3 loss to the Isles at home on Tuesday.
That night, they played with plenty of emotion and energy, but the execution wasn't always there. As Pens head coach Mike Sullivan put it, his team played hard but not always smart, and they let some frustration creep into their game after not being able to convert some of their chances. Like Tuesday, the offense didn't come as easily as it did in Canada, but they did a better job of staying patient and playing the right way.
The scoresheet doesn't tell the whole story when it comes to scoring chances. The Pens might have been held off the board at even strength but they had plenty of opportunities to score, especially in overtime. Isles goalie Thomas Greiss came up with some really clutch and timely saves throughout regulation and then absolutely stood on his head in the extra period, with his best stop coming when he pokechecked Sidney Crosby on a breakaway. It's one of those nights where the Pens just didn't have the puck luck.
"We had a good couple of chances in overtime. We should score," Evgeni Malkin said. "We have skilled guys who can score. A tough game for us because I think we played great, just a little unlucky."
It was a tough go on Tuesday night for Matt Murray, who was pulled after allowing four goals on nine shots. Mike Sullivan said he didn't fault him for any of those goals as they came off high-quality chances, and put him right back in the net tonight. And while the Pens did a better job of limiting those high-quality chances, the Isles still created a lot and had stretches where they pinned the Pens in their end. Murray was rock solid during those stretches and got better as the game went on, coming up with some absolutely huge saves at the end of regulation and in overtime.
It was an interesting night on special teams. The Pens' first power-play unit gave up a shorthanded breakaway to Josh Bailey and Sullivan said that sequence was avoidable. "I think we've got to have more awareness on the ice in that circumstance," he said. But the first unit also scored in the third period to force overtime, and the second unit got the first goal of the game from Dominik Simon. He scored with 10 seconds left on a power play to extend his career-long point streak to five games (2G-4A). Malkin also extended his point streak to nine games with his power-play tally. He now has 17 points (6G-11A) over that span.