UNIONDALE, N.Y. – The New York Islanders have a knack for blowing third-period leads. Against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, they were fortunate to escape with a point.
Petr Sykora scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Penguins a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Islanders on Saturday night.
“It’s terrible,” New York defenceman Andy Sutton said. “If you lose and learn from it, it’s one thing, but if you lose and don’t learn from it, it’s completely another. You have to make a decision on how you want to play and stick with it.”
Pittsburgh outshot the Islanders 18-1 in the final period, and scored the tying goal on their 17th shot with 3:15 left. New York squandered a lead in the third period for the fourth time in five games – this was the first that wasn’t a multigoal edge.
“What we were able to do through two periods was pretty impressive,” Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. “But at the end of the day, the third period is a result of our own decisions with the puck.”
Sykora beat Joey MacDonald on Pittsburgh’s first shootout try, but a video review was needed for New York’s final attempt by Trent Hunter. Dany Sabourin stopped the shot, but his body carried into the Penguins net. The call was upheld because there was no clear evidence that the puck crossed the goal line.
“It was a tough call,” Sabourin said. “It was pretty close. The puck was in my pad where my knee was. There’s no way (referees) could see the puck.”
Tyler Kennedy scored twice in regulation, and Jordan Staal added a goal. Sabourin turned aside 19 shots to boost the Penguins to their third straight win. Crosby was in the lineup one day after he left practice early Friday due to an undisclosed injury.
Doug Weight, Tim Jackman and Andy Hilbert scored for New York, and MacDonald stopped 29 shots.
The Islanders did two things well in the opening period. They held Pittsburgh to just two shots and grabbed a 1-0 lead. Weight scored his third goal of the season at 16:27 when he wristed a shot from just inside the left point over Sabourin’s rising glove hand.
The Penguins tied it 2:16 into the second when Kennedy completed a give-and-go with Mike Zigomanis by backhanding the puck into a nearly open net.
Jackman, recalled earlier in the day by the Islanders from Bridgeport of the AHL, took the rebound of Weight’s shot and buried it for his first of the season and third in the NHL. That gave New York a 2-1 lead at 8:51.
Hilbert made it 3-1 at 14:30 off a nice centring feed from Kyle Okposo. Staal narrowed the gap to one at 16:01 on a breakaway, putting a backhander past MacDonald.
Kennedy tipped in a point slap shot from Alex Goligoski to tie it 3-3 with 3:15 left.
“It was just a crazy game,” captain Crosby said. “We came out hard in the third period. We had to.”
The Islanders are just trying to fight off their current string of third-period collapses.
“It’s one of those things again,” MacDonald said. “We seemed to sit back in the third. We have to play the same way for 60 minutes and stay focused.”
Notes: Islanders C Nate Thompson will be out 2-to-4 weeks due to a groin injury sustained in New York’s loss at Atlanta on Thursday. … The Islanders sent fighting forward Mitch Fritz down to Bridgeport. … Penguins D Hal Gill skated in his 800th NHL game. Former Islanders forwards Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko made their first visit to Nassau Coliseum since signing with the Penguins during the summer.