UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Pittsburgh Penguins have two of the most deadly New York Islanders killers on their roster, so it would make sense that the two would play a vital role in the Islanders 4-3 shootout loss on Thursday.
Crosby scored the shootout winner, but it was Malkin’s goal with 18 seconds left in the third period that changed the course of the game and deflated the Islanders. New York looked as though they were about to pick up their third consecutive win after Mathew Barzal single-handily gave the Islanders back the lead with 6:25 left in the game.
Down to the closing seconds in the game, Pittsburgh had pulled their netminder to have the six-on-five advantage. They were able to move the puck around the offensive zone and then struck when they found their moment.
Pittsburgh had traffic in front of Islanders starter Semyon Varlamov as they moved the puck back up to the point. Noticing that Malkin had been given a little room to work, Kris Letang fed Malkin for the one-timer along the blue line.
What was noticeable on the play was the way Varlamov wasn’t able to read the shot until it was too late and the minuscule amount of space that Brock Nelson gave Malkin, which was just enough for him to get that powerful shot off. And Varlamov was thinking the shot was going to go to his glove side, which you can see as he motions to his left anticipating the puck to come that way.
“six-on-five, the post and in,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “We get a block or it hits the post there it doesn’t go in. We might be getting here with the two points. That’s a little bit of hockey sometimes. I give them a lot of credit. They executed that and a pretty good player shot the puck.”
Instead of the Islanders coming away with two points, they left Nassau Coliseum with only a point. It was important that they still were able to get one on Thursday night, but in the shortened season the difference between a playoff spot and ending the year early could come down to that point.