UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Islanders didn’t get discouraged when they kept falling behind. They just kept their focus, got a big surge in the second period and ran past the Pittsburgh Penguins into the second round of the playoffs.
Brock Nelson scored twice in New York’s three-goal second and the Islanders beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 in Game 6 on Wednesday night.
“There’s going to be ups and downs, you’re going to be behind,” Nelson said. “It’s a race to four games. One play isn’t going to be make or break. It’s how you respond and react to that. You’re going to get a moment. You want to take advantage of that, turn the tide back in your favor whenever that chance comes.”
The Islanders will face Boston in the next round, and fans chanted “We want Bos-ton! We want Bos-ton!” in the closing minutes.
Anthony Beauvillier had a goal and two assists, and Kyle Palmieri and Ryan Pulock also scored to help the Islanders beat the top-seeded Penguins in the first round for the second time in three years. Josh Bailey and Jean-Gabriel Pageau each had two assists.
Ilya Sorokin stopped 34 shots to move to 4-0 with a 1.95 goals-against average in the series. He had seven saves in the first period, 15 in the second and 12 in the third to finish with 150 in his four starts.
Jason Zucker had a goal and an assist, and Jeff Carter and Jake Guentzel also scored for Pittsburgh. Tristan Jarry made 19 saves.
The Penguins outshot the Islanders 12-5 in the third period, and pulled Jarry for an extra skater with about 1:15 left but couldn’t break through New York’s stifling defense.
“It’s never a good feeling when you lose,” said Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby, who was held to one goal and one assist in the series. “We felt good about our group and we thought that we could make a run. For it to come to a halt is disappointing.”
After reaching the second round just once in a 25 years from 1994-2018, the Islanders have now done it in three straight years.
“This is a special place, a special group,” Nelson said. “Everybody wants to go out there and win and compete for a Stanley Cup and raise it, so to be seeing some progress and getting close, its awesome. It’s fun.”
Zucker put the Penguins ahead 3-2 with their third lead of the game as he tipped a point shot by Evgeni Malkin past Sorokin at 1:53 of the second period.
“You got a lead on the road, you gotta lock it down,” Carter said. “This is just a tough one to take right now.”
The Islanders then took the lead with two goals 13 seconds apart. They tied it at 8:35 as Beauvillier brought the puck up the ice, pass to Josh Bailey on the right side. Bailey sent a cross-ice laser pass to Nelson on the left side and he q`uickly beat Jarry.
Off a faceoff in the right circle in the offensive zone, Pageau sent the puck back to Pulock at the right point and he fired a slap shot through traffic past Jarry to give New York its first lead of the night.
The Islanders made it 5-3 less than 3 minutes later as Beauvillier brought the puck up the middle, dropped a pass back to Nelson, who fired it past Jarry for his second of the night with 8:26 left in the middle period to draw a thunderous roar from the crowd.
“I think we did a good job by just sticking with our game plan and obviously it paid off in the second period,” Beauvillier said. “We were on top of our game tonight. It was a typical Islander win.”
The Penguins got on the scoreboard 1:27 into the game. On a rush, Kasperi Kapanen found Carter streaking up the middle and he beat Sorokin through the five-hole for his fourth of the series.
Beauvillier, who was beaten up the ice by Carter on his goal, tied it for New York at 5:16 as he got ahead of Crosby, got a pass from Nelson and put a backhander up over Jarry on the glove side for his third of the series. The goal sent the Nassau Coliseum crowd into a frenzy followed by mocking chants of “Cros-by!” and “Jar-ry!”
Pittsburgh regained the lead on a power play as Guentzel got a pass from Kris Letang in frunt and spun and fired a shot that deflected off Islanders defenseman Pulock and past Sorokin for his first of the series with 8:48 remaining in the first.
The Islanders tied it again 1:13 later. After a turnover by the Penguins, Pageau brought the puck into the offensive zone and fired a shot from the right point. Jarry made the stop but the puck deflected to the left side and Palmieri, who had the overtime winner in Game 1, quickly put it in.
CLIMBING THE LIST
Malkin had an assist on Guentzel’s goal in the first period to break a tie with Mario Lemieux (172) for the most postseason points in franchise history. Malkin’s assist on Zucker’s goal in the second was his 174th playoff point. Sidney Crosby is first with 191
The capacity at Nassau Coliseum was expanded to 9,000. It had been 1,700 during the season after fans were permitted to attend, and was increased to 6,800 for Games 3 and 4 of the series.
“It was incredible,” Pulock said. “They’ve come out this whole series. They came out when they could in the regular season and they brought it tonight and that was the extra boost we needed.”