UNIONDALE, N.Y. – The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders don’t agree on much.
They did both believe that major penalty assessed to New York defenceman Travis Hamonic wasn’t a penalty.
“I’ve watched it numerous times, and that’s a play where I probably wouldn’t even get credit for a hit,” Hamonic said after the Islanders’ 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
Hamonic was sent off after bumping Brooks Orpik into the boards, even though a replay showed Orpik appeared to hit himself in the face with his own stick after the contact.
“You watch the play and I skate by and (it’s) minimal contact with the opposing player,” said Hamonic. “He hits himself in the forehead with his own stick. He goes down and he’s bleeding … Next thing you know, five-minute major and you’re kicked out of the game. Tough call to make in those circumstances, I guess.”
James Neal scored twice, and Pascal Dupuis, Steve Sullivan, Matt Cooke and Paul Martin added goals for the Penguins, who snapped a two-game losing streak. Dupuis’ goal was the winner.
David Ullstrom, Milan Jurcina and Kyle Okposo scored for New York.
Orpik, who had stitches and dried blood where his forehead and the bridge of his nose meet, absolved Hamonic while criticizing referees Dan O’Halloran and Frederick L’Ecuyer.
“(I) was surprised it was a five-minute major,” Orpik said. “(I) didn’t think it was a five-minute major.”
Pittsburgh, playing without Sidney Crosby, has beaten the Islanders all four times the teams have played this season. There are two games remaining between the Atlantic Division rivals, March 27 at the Consol Energy Center and at Nassau Coliseum two nights later.
Pittsburgh began to take control in the second period after Hamonic was penalized.
Neal scored the Penguins’ lone goal on the five-minute man advantage by popping a rebound of Chris Kuntiz’s shot past Al Montoya at 8:44 to tie it at three. And when Dupuis’s blast from the high slot beat Montoya, Pittsburgh had its first lead of the game.
The teams were tied 2-2 after the first period.
Ullstrom’s second career goal opened the scoring 4:22 into the match. The left winger sped past Alexandre Picard along the right wing boards and whipped a shot over Marc-Andre Fleury’s glove.
Jurcina made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 12:16. Jurcina hammered a slapshot past Fleury to conclude a play that began when Okposo was able to control a loose puck behind the Penguins’ net. Okposo found Mark Streit at the left point, who then shovelled a pass to Jurcina.
Up to that point, the Islanders had the edge in play. But when Sullivan halved the lead to 2-1 2:12 after Jurcina’s goal with his fifth of the season, the momentum slowly shift. Joe Vitale outraced Streit to a puck that had bounced over his stick, and then fed Sullivan, who came down the slot, for the one-timer.
Neal tied it with 28.2 seconds remaining. Kunitz forced a turnover behind the Islanders’ net. Malkin grabbed the loose puck and found Neal cutting across the slot.
“I was looking for a response from our team. We were in a hole,” said Dan Bylsma, who improved to 15-2-4 against the Islanders as coach of the Penguins.
“I thought our team responded real well. Our biggest challenge was rebounding from where we were in the last couple games.”
Okposo put the Islanders back on top 3-2 2:54 into the second. He sped up the right boards and ripped a shot from the faceoff circle over Fleury’s glove.
Cooke and Martin scored goals in the third.
Fleury made 24 saves, while Montoya stopped 25 shots.
Pittsburgh was 1 for 3 on the power play. New York connected once on seven opportunities.
NOTES: Crosby missed his second straight game. He had collided with Kunitz in the Penguins’ 3-1 loss to Boston on Monday night. … Pittsburgh’s Jordan Staal also missed the game because of with lower-body injury. Jason Williams was promoted from Wilkes-Barre of the AHL. … New York left wing Matt Martin played in his 100th NHL game. … The announced attendance was 15,638.