UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Chris Kunitz scored his second man-advantage goal of the game 8 minutes 44 seconds into overtime, off the third assist of the day by Sidney Crosby, and the Pittsburgh Penguins rode a slew of ups and downs Sunday en route to a 5-4 victory over the host New York Islanders.
With the win, top-seeded Pittsburgh took a 2-1 lead in the first-round playoff series. The Islanders came in still enjoying the positive effects of their 4-3 comeback win on Friday in Pittsburgh.
Crosby, playing his second game after missing a month because of a broken jaw, drew the decisive penalty against Brian Strait, who held the Penguins captain as he drove the net 33 seconds before the winning goal.
“He kind of wrapped me up,” Crosby said. “I pulled up looking for someone. I didn’t see anyone so I thought I would take it to the net.
“We were hoping we could get it done quickly.”
The Penguins went 3-for-5 on the power play and yielded Kyle Okposo’s short-handed goal, but held New York scoreless on its three advantages.
“We had our chances. They scored on the power plays and we didn’t,” said Islanders Coach Jack Capuano. “You always talk about special teams being a big factor, and that was the difference.”
When New York scored twice in the first 5:41 to go up 2-0 in Game 3, old Nassau Coliseum rocked as it did in the Stanley Cup-winning days of the early 1980s. However, this was the Islanders’ first home playoff game since 2007, and the fans were soaking it all in.
The Penguins stormed back with a pair of power-play goals 19 seconds apart — first by Jarome Iginla on a 5-on-3 advantage, and then by Kunitz in the second half of the penalty. When Pascal Dupuis gave Pittsburgh its first lead with 1 minute left in the opening period — capping the three-goal spurt in 5:42 — the early euphoria was gone in a flash.
“You have to give them credit. They got up two and they showed no quit,” said Iginla, a key late-season trade pickup by the Penguins. “It meant a lot on the road to get those two back.
“There is a lot of emotion, unpredictability in the playoffs. You have to learn to control that.”
— Associated Press