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Special Teams Keys First CONSOL Energy Center Victory

by Tony Jovenitti / Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins secured their first-ever victory in CONSOL Energy Center, defeating the New York Islanders 3-2 in overtime, and the special teams played a critical role in the victory.

The win certainly didn’t come easily. In fact, it looked like the Penguins were about to fall short at the end of regulation after Deryk Engelland went to the box with 2:17 remaining.

That left just four defensemen on the bench to kill the penalty, since Kris Letang left the game in the second period with a game misconduct.

The game hung in the balance, but the Penguins penalty kill was able to force overtime.

“We were great,” said goaltender Brent Johnson, who improved to 2-0 on the season. “We were anticipating really well. When they dropped it down to the low guy, we had sticks in the lanes with nothing available in the slot. We just did a fantastic job all the way around.”

“The penalty kill was exceptional when it needed to be,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We were put under the gun there since we were short-staffed in defensemen. Our guys all had to step up back there.”

Bylsma was especially impressed with Paul Martin, Alex Goligoski, Ben Lovejoy and Andrew Hutchinson, who all played important roles while the Penguins were shorthanded.

“They allowed us to get the game into overtime and have a chance to win it,” Bylsma said.

“If you can get a big kill like that when you’re in a vulnerable spot, it feeds the team,” Mike Rupp said. “So what’s really important for us is to use special teams as momentum.”

The Penguins used the momentum built from the critical penalty kill and carried that into overtime. Goligoski scored the game-winning goal on a power play 2:51 into the extra frame to seal the victory in thrilling fashion.

Despite creating a lot of chances, the power play went just 1-8 in the game, but Sidney Crosby said that statistics aren’t that important.

“Timing is everything sometimes,” Crosby said. “We got it when we needed it.”

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