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Snap Shots: Isles 4, Pens 1

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Thoughts, musings, and observations from the Pens' 4-1 loss against the Islanders in Game 3.

* This was as close to a "must-win" as it got for the Pens. 

But as head coach Mike Sullivan said before the game, they were in complete control of the circumstance. They simply had to go out and win a game. And they didn't.

That leaves them down 3-0 in the series to the Islanders, who will have a chance to clinch in Game 4 on Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena.

"We've got to focus on one game," Sidney Crosby said. "We can't even it up in one game, but we can get ourselves back in it. I think our focus is just on Game 4 and making sure we get the job done and get a win here."

* The turning point of this game came in the first period. Garrett Wilson tipped a shot from Marcus Pettersson to open the scoring and send the crowd into a frenzy. But the Pens weren't ready for the Islanders' response on the next shift. 

They immediately created a glorious scoring chance that Matt Murray turned aside, and followed that up with another one from Jordan Eberle that found the back of the net and evened the score just 28 seconds later.

Before the series, Sullivan talked about how important it would be to take care of the puck and how they couldn't give the Islanders freebies by trying to make plays that weren't there in critical areas of the rink, specifically the blue line. But that's exactly what happened right after the Islanders tied the game.

Justin Schultz stepped up to try and keep the zone and Tom Kuhnhackl chipped it right by him, giving the Islanders a 2-on-1 that Brock Nelson converted to give New York a 2-1 lead. They never looked back.

"It was just a bad play by me, I can't be pinching there," Schultz said. "It was on me."

* The biggest storyline going into this series was how the Pens would generate offense against the Islanders' defense, which finished the regular season ranked first in goals against. New York is currently dominating that matchup while scoring some opportunistic goals of its own.

"It's a tight game," Crosby said. "It's a game of execution. We haven't done as good a job as they have."

The Pens are a team loaded with talent and have so many players who have the potential to be difference-makers, but they're not getting enough from those elite forwards. The Pens have mustered one goal each in Games 2 and 3, from Wilson and Erik Gudbranson - which were the first career playoff tallies for both players.

The most glaring omissions from the scoresheet are Crosby and Jake Guentzel, who usually elevate their games to incredible levels at this time of year but are both pointless through the first three games of the series. If the Pens want to stay alive, they need their best players to be just that.

"You got to find ways to score goals this time of year," Crosby said. "It's not easy but you've got to find a way to do it, and obviously we haven't done a good enough job for the first three games."

* The Pens have gotten a number of chances to put all of their best players on the ice at one time so far this series, and have just one power-play goal to show for it, scored by Evgeni Malkin in Game 1. They are 1-for-8 in the series.

They had a couple of opportunities in the second period after going down 2-1 to come up with a clutch tying goal, and weren't able to get the job done. 

"We had a lot of looks around the net that we couldn't seem to finish on. The power play had a couple," Sullivan said. "There were a couple of rebounds that come to mind that were right at the side of the net and we couldn't seem to put them in. it's not that opportunities haven't presented themselves; we just haven't been able to finish on some of them.

Islanders goalie Robin Lehner came up with some glorious saves against the Pens' power play. He's been outplaying Murray to help backstop his team to their 3-0 series lead.

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