Penguins bounce back with OT win
NEW YORK (AP) — Kris Letang scored 1:24 into overtime, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the last-place New York Islanders 3-2 on Friday night to rebound from one of their worst losses in recent memory.
Sidney Crosby set up the winner by faking a shot and then passing to Letang, who fired in his second of the season.
Pittsburgh was beaten 7-1 by the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night, its biggest defeat during coach Mike Sullivan’s nearly year-long tenure.
Matt Murray had 20 saves, and the Penguins also got goals from Crosby and Trevor Daley.
The Islanders dropped their fourth straight and are mired in a 1-3-4 stretch. Jaroslav Halak was cool under pressure in the third period and stopped 32 shots in his seventh straight start.
New York coach Jack Capuano shuffled his lines to get Ryan Strome with first-unit center John Tavares, but the offense came from elsewhere. Brock Nelson scored on a power play early in the second period, and rookie Anthony Beauvillier got his second goal 42 seconds later.
The Penguins had lost two of three and hobbled into New York with health concerns. Patric Hornqvist has a concussion and did not play, Chris Kunitz was a game-time decision with a lower-body injury and Murray left the loss to the Capitals after being hit in the head in the first period.
Murray and Kunitz suited up Friday, and the latter assumed Hornqvist’s role as net-front pest on the Penguins’ power play.
Kunitz filled in well on the man-up unit, helping Pittsburgh score first during a dominant opening period. With Nelson in the box for charging, Kunitz fed the puck to Letang, then skated toward the slot while Letang fired from the right point. The rebound skidded to Crosby alone below the right faceoff dot, and with Halak still searching for the puck, Crosby one-timed it in from an off angle.
Pittsburgh outshot New York 16-5 in the first period, but then the defending Stanley Cup champs got sloppy.
Star Evgeni Malkin was called for roughing after the end of the first period, and New York scored on the power play early in the second. Strome grabbed a loose puck following a slick zone entry by Tavares, then fed across the ice for Nelson. The 25-year-old controlled it momentarily before firing from atop the faceoff circles, beating Murray blocker side for his fifth goal 1:51 in.
Beauvillier then gave New York the lead after Letang turned the puck over near his own blue line. Beauvillier scooped up the defenseman’s gift, skated in alone and deked forehand-to-backhand to beat Murray.
The Penguins’ messy play continued for much of the period, including when Malkin handed Nikolay Kulemin a scoring chance with a careless turnover during Pittsburgh’s power play about four minutes later — Murray stopped Kulemin’s backhand try.
Malkin redeemed himself by forcing a turnover that led to the tying goal. He poked the puck away from Adam Pelech, and Kunitz forced it behind New York’s net. Phil Kessel then flicked it back toward center ice amid a scrum, and an undefended Daley one-timed it past Halak with 6:05 left in the second.
The Penguins haven’t lost consecutive games in regulation in nearly a year. Pittsburgh lost its first four games — all in three periods — under Sullivan last December, but since then, they’re 12-0-1 following a regulation defeat.
Penguins: Play at Buffalo on Saturday night, then begin a home-and-home series with the Rangers in Pittsburgh on Monday.
Islanders: Begin a three-game California trip at Anaheim on Tuesday night.