The Pittsburgh Penguins played a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ type of game Friday night, but still pulled away with a 4-2 victory against the New York Islanders. The streak is now at 11 games as they tied the Chicago Blackhawks for the longest winning streak this season.
Brandon Sutter scored the game winning goal 1:46 into the third period, Tomas Vokoun made 33 saves and the penalty kill stood on their heads late in a game where the Penguins were outshot 14-3 in the first period.
The Islanders scored first on Mark Streit’s fifth goal of the season. The Islanders captain slapped a one-timer on a play off the faceoff to give his team the early 1-0 advantage.
“I don’t think we felt good after the first period, that’s for sure,” Sutter said in the post-game interview. “But we managed to weather a storm and we got a couple of goals in the second period.”
Pittsburgh responded in the second period and got goals from Joe Vitale and Chris Kunitz.
With the game tied 2-2, Sutter notched his fourth game-winner this season when Matt Cooke cruised down the right wing and fed a pass on the backhand to a wide-open Sutter. New York goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was unable to get across on the 2-on-1 and Pittsburgh took a 3-2 lead. They also killed off two penalties late in the third period as they improved their record to 24-8-0 and remain the top team in the Eastern Conference.
“We had to work hard to get ourselves back into the game and get some momentum,” Sidney Crosby said. “They had some opportunities late on the power plays and [Vokoun] made some great saves.”
Kunitz’s goal was his 19th of the season and Crosby added two assists to help keep the 1-2 punch at the top of the National Hockey League in scoring.
The Penguins played without Evgeni Malkin (shoulder), Kris Letang (lower-body) and Tyler Kennedy (flu). However the void was filled by the secondary scoring and solid goaltending and great penalty killing as Pittsburgh has allowed only one power play goal in the last five games.
“I think sometimes you’ve got to find ways to win and tonight we had to find a way not playing our best in the first [period],” Crosby said.
Pittsburgh will now get set to enjoy a five-game home stand and will host the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday night.
Ekiert’s three stars:
3- Josh Bailey; C, Islanders- 1 goal
2- Tomas Vokoun; G, Penguins- 33 saves
1- Brandon Sutter; C, Penguins- GW goal
Game Notes: The Islanders’ top line of John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Brad Boyes were held to 1 assist and a minus- 8, while Crosby, Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis combined for 5 points (2 G, 3 A) and a plus- 2 rating; Tomas Vokoun recorded his first point of the season with an assist on Dupuis empty-net goal.