Penguins, Islanders ready for more fireworks in Game 2
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The opening game of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins had it all.
It went to overtime, featured three ties, nine penalties -- including a boarding call on the Islanders' Anders Lee that resulted in a potential injury for Penguins defenseman Erik Gudbranson -- and a whole bunch of after-the-whistle pushing and shoving. Meanwhile, the teams traded seven goals, the last of which might remain a viral sensation until the Stanley Cup is hoisted in June.
Anyone ready for a few more of these?
"If every game's like that, it's going to be a roller coaster for sure," Islanders center Mathew Barzal said late Wednesday night, after his highlight-reel sequence deep in the Penguins' zone led to Josh Bailey's goal 4:39 into overtime and a 4-3 win for New York.
The Islanders and Penguins will look to match Game 1's intensity and entertainment on Friday night, when the Metropolitan Division rivals meet in Game 2 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
The Islanders held leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 on Wednesday, but the Penguins equalized each time. Justin Schultz delivered the third, an extra-attacker goal with 1:29 left to force overtime. Bailey nearly won the game in the final 10 seconds of regulation, when his shot rang off the left post.
Barzal almost won the game himself in overtime when he shuffled the puck and deked Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin in front of the crease. With Dumoulin sprawled out, Barzal waited before putting a backhander over goaltender Matt Murray's pad, only to hit the left post, but Bailey was positioned to put back the rebound.
"That's playoff hockey, that was completely different than a regular-season game," Barzal said following his postseason debut. "You've got to be dialed in at all times. We were tonight, everyone was, and I'm sure they were, too. It was a good battle by both teams."
Despite the loss, the Penguins could take solace in forcing the grind-it-out Islanders to play a far more up-tempo game than Barzal and his teammates would have likely preferred, following a season in which New York allowed the fewest goals in the league (196)
The Penguins fired 44 shots at Islanders goalie Robin Lehner, the second-most faced by Lehner or no. 2 goalie Thomas Greiss since the Carolina Hurricanes recorded 46 shots in a 2-1 overtime loss to New York way back in the season opener on Oct. 4.
"We had a lot of real quality chances," Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. "We had 40-something shots. I thought we got to their net. And we've just got to continue to do that."
Sullivan offered no update on Gudbranson, who needed help getting off the ice after he got tangled up with Lee and crashed head-first into the boards behind the Penguins' net shortly before the midway point of the third period. But Gudbranson was seen walking in the Pittsburgh locker room following the defeat, and he practiced in full on Thursday.
The Islanders will be looking to go ahead 2-0 in playoff series for the first time since they swept the Edmonton Oilers for the last of their four straight Stanley Cups in 1983. The Penguins have not trailed 2-0 in a series since they were swept by the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013.
--Field Level Media
Updated April 12, 2019