Islanders rally from early deficit to even series with Penguins

 

The Islanders vowed they would be better in Game 2 and they were.

As a result, the Islanders return home to Long Island having drawn even with the top-seeded Penguins after a come-from-behind 4-3 win Friday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at the CONSOL Energy Center.

Last night’s win was the Islanders’ first in the Stanley Cup playoffs since April 14, 2007, a span of 2,211 days.

Game 3 is Sunday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum. It will be the first playoff game contested at the Coliseum since April 18, 2007.

Even though the Penguins led 3-1 at the first intermission, the Islanders had more shots on goal (20-12) and more shot attempts (35-19). The Islanders finished with a 42-33 advantage in shots on goal and attempted more shots (79-57) as well.

There were two turning points Friday night. The first was Kyle Okposo’s second-period bout with Matt Niskanen. Okposo challenged and subsequently bloodied the Penguins defenseman after Niskanen’s open-ice hit on Matt Moulson.

Fourteen seconds after the fight, Colin McDonald’s off-angle shot slithered under Marc-Andre Fleury to cut the deficit to 3-2.

After McDonald’s goal, Matt Martin one-timed Josh Bailey’s off-the-end-boards rebound past Fleury to tie the game at 3-3 about five minutes later. It was the first of two off-the-backboard goals Fleury would yield, including Okposo’s game-winner with 7:37 left.

The other turning point came as the Islanders killed John Tavares’ four-minute minor for high-sticking Brendan Morrow spanning the final 3:29 of the second period and the first 31 seconds of the third.

Sidney Crosby, in his first game action since suffering a broken jaw in the 2-0 win over the Islanders on March 30, scored two goals and Evgeni Malkin added a marker of his own. Fleury made 38 saves.

Evgeni Nabokov was strong in Game 2, making 30 saves. Matt Moulson added a goal.

Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.



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