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Snap Shots: Islanders 5, Penguins 4 (OT)

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins' 5-4 overtime loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena.

* The Penguins have made a habit of falling behind in games this season, and clawing their way back for come-from-behind victories. Tonight, they suffered the reverse. Pittsburgh had leads of 2-0 and 4-2, only to watch them evaporate into an eventual 5-4 overtime loss. 

But for a team that has played so well all season defensively, a 4-2 lead with less than five minutes remaining in the game seemed like a lock. That all changed, however, after Bryan Rust was called for tripping Nick Leddy late in the third period.

It was a penalty that Rust didn't particularly agree with. 

"Two guys got tangled up. The ref saw it one way," Rust said. "I was just trying to play hard. It is what it is."

Just four seconds after the Penguins killed the penalty to Rust, Josh Bailey scored to make it 4-3. Ryan Pulock scored with 1:32 remaining in regulation as the Islanders had the extra attacker on the ice.

Brock Nelson completed the Islanders' comeback with an overtime marker, his second of the game. The Penguins will have an opportunity for revenge on Thursday when they travel to New York to finish off the home-and-home series.

"It sucks," defenseman Justin Schultz said. "I thought we were in control. It doesn't feel good right now. We'll learn from it, and try to get ready for Thursday."

* Matt Murray deserved better in this game. He was sharp right from the get-go, as evidenced by the pair of phenomenal stops he made just under three minutes in right before the Penguins drew a penalty. If it wasn't for his play, they might not have taken a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

The Penguins netminder continued that strong play throughout the night, with head coach Mike Sullivan praising him for his efforts.

"He was terrific down the stretch," Sullivan said. "Late in the game, he was terrific. In the overtime, he was really good. He made a bunch of saves in the overtime. I thought he had a really good game."

* Brandon Tanev was another bright spot for the Penguins. He has had a strong couple of games since replacing Dominik Simon on a line with Jared McCann and Dominik Kahun. As Sullivan explained, he felt that McCann and Kahun needed a little bit more strength on the puck and in the battle areas, which is why the coaching staff moved Tanev alongside them.

"Tans is a straight-line guy, he can really skate, he's got a heavy forecheck, he's a physical player, he goes to the net," Sullivan said. "He's heavy. He just brings that dimension to the other two guys."

And Tanev has gotten rewarded for that on the scoresheet the last two games. After going pointless in six straight, Tanev collected a pair of assists in Pittsburgh's 6-1 win over the Leafs on Saturday before scoring twice tonight. This marks the first time in his career that he has recorded back-to-back multi-point games. 

* After a historic slump, the power play is starting to hit its stride. The Penguins scored on the man-advantage for a second straight game. After Jake Guentzel got one on Saturday, Rust tallied tonight. 

While the puck movement and possession has been fantastic, what stands out the most about this unit is their shoot-first mentality. As Sullivan likes to say, nothing breaks down coverage better than a shot on goal, and that's exactly what led to Rust's goal. 

Evgeni Malkin put the puck towards the net, it popped out to Rust and he whipped it past Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov for the score.

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