The New York Islanders know 10 stunning minutes of hockey can’t take away the sting of last spring’s playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Still, it’s a start.
Josh Bailey’s goal with 1:40 left capped a furious third-period rally, and the Islanders edged the Penguins, 4-3, on Friday night.
Bailey took a feed from Frans Nielsen in front of the net and beat goalie Jeff Zatkoff for his fourth goal of the season. The Islanders scored three times in the final 7:14 and erased deficits of 2-1 and 3-2 to win for just the second time in seven games.
“It’s always satisfying against a divisional rival and a great team like Pittsburgh, and maybe a little bit added because of the playoffs,” Bailey said. “But it’s just one regular-season win. We’ll see if we can build some momentum.”
Nielsen, Matt Moulson and Pierre-Marc Bouchard also scored for New York, and defenseman Radek Martinek had two assists in his season debut. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 39 shots against the team that tormented him at times during a spirited first-round playoff series.
Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby scored his eighth goal of the season and now has an NHL-high 18 points. Jussi Jokinen and Deryk Engelland also beat Nabokov but couldn’t stop the Penguins from losing their second straight. Pittsburgh went 0 for 5 on the power play and is 0 for 12 with the man advantage the last two games.
“We had some chances to build on our lead, and we didn’t,” Crosby said. “We made some mistakes and they made us pay.”
Zatkoff, playing in his second NHL game, made 21 saves.
Pittsburgh dominated the game’s first 50 minutes, peppering Nabokov relentlessly. The veteran hung in long enough for New York’s lifeless offense to get going.
Nielsen evened it 2-2 with 7:14 remaining on a nifty deflection. The tie lasted all of 16 seconds as Engelland — a defenseman being used as a fourth-line forward due to Penguins injuries — crashed the net for his first goal in 61 games.
New York, however, kept coming. Shortly after Engelland’s tally, Bouchard took advantage of a Pittsburgh turnover deep in its own end and deked his way by Zatkoff to make it 3-3.
The Penguins’ defense gave Bailey two chances to bury the game-winner. Zatkoff made a sprawling save to stop Bailey on the doorstep, but the goalie couldn’t grab the rebound. Nielsen immediately fed Bailey again and he kept jabbing at the puck until it found its way behind Zatkoff. That set off a celebration on the Islanders bench.