After a wild game three loss, the New York Islanders took care of business on Saturday afternoon, as they tied their first round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 4-1 win.
With that said, the phrase “taking care of business” held some extra incentives for the Isles in this one.
The biggest thing to take away from this win would have to be the amount of apparent frustration stemming from Pittsburgh’s star players. Just over four minutes in, Cal Clutterbuck and Penguins center Evgeni Malkin got into a shoving match in between the benches. Both received roughing calls and that in itself is a big tradeoff from an Isles standpoint.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that’s Clutterbuck’s job (to be a pest and lure opponents into taking penalties), but when that player is a future Hall-of-Famer who can practically take over a game that pushes the advantage to the Isles significantly. Malkin wasn’t done with taking penalties either, as he set up the first Islanders’ power play for giving Kyle Palmieri a healthy whack to the face. The Isles didn’t convert on the power play but it began to show frustration building from one of Pittsburgh’s most talented players.
The third period is where this game began to turn. The Islanders, up 2-0 off Josh Bailey and Ryan Pulock markers, were heading to the PK after Scott Mayfield was whistled for a hold against Sidney Crosby. It was a questionable call in its own right, but it presented a potential turning point in the game. And it did turn… just not in the way most had anticipated. 30 seconds into the kill, Jason Zucker is called for tripping. Zucker doesn’t agree, heads off… four-on-four action. From there, Kris Letang levels Adam Pelech with the puck nowhere in sight… now a five-on-four man-advantage for Pittsburgh turned into a four-on-three power play for the home side, all thanks to Pelech drawing both calls.
PPG FROM EBERLE! pic.twitter.com/AHXaTprLTt
— x – New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) May 22, 2021
The Isles didn’t waste any time on the four-on-three, as Mathew Barzal found Oliver Wahlstrom in the “Ovi Office”, who’s shot was denied by Tristan Jarry before careening in off Teddy Blueger. Not quite the way it was drawn up, but it gave the Isles some breathing room… and still time on the power play. Well, it only took another 24 seconds for Jordan Eberle to score his first of the series, snapping a shot (you guessed it) glove side on Jarry. A 2-0 deficit for Pittsburgh doubled in less than two minutes, and it was all thanks to careless penalties taken out of frustration.
After all was said and done, the stars of the Penguins knew their penalties proved to be costly. “Of course we understand we take too many penalties,” said Malkin, who took three minor penalties of his own. “Next game we need to focus, play disciplined, and don’t give them any chances to play on the power play- don’t take any bad penalties.”
Malkin also seemed to take some responsibility regarding the minors he took throughout game four. “I will be more disciplined next game,” the star center said. “We’re not happy with what we did tonight, but we need to forget this day, forget this game. It’s a best of three right now.”
Game five of this series will be on Monday night, with the winner of that game presented with a chance to close the series out on Wednesday at the Coliseum in game six.
Follow Carter on Twitter @cbentivenga14