Game Two of the Pittsburgh Penguins versus New York Islanders series ended in a 2-1 victory for the Pens, evening up the series at one headed into Long Island. Much alike game one of the series, it was a high-energy and intense affair between these rivals, but ultimately it was the Penguins who came out on top.
Tristan Jarry got the nod in goal for the Pens after allowing four goals in game one, all of which came on his glove-side, while Semyon Varlamov returned from injury for the Isles for game two. Despite Varlamov’s 43-save performance, his team was only able to beat his opponent once on 38 shots, while two Pens first period goals held up as the deciding factor in the game.
“The players, coaches, staff, and management team have the ultimate faith in Tristan. He’s a terrific goaltender. There was no doubt in my mind he was going to come back with a solid effort.” said Coach Mike Sullivan postgame.
Despite practicing with the team, Evgeni Malkin and Brian Dumoulin were both listed as game-time decisions, with the latter being the only one to dress for game two. It seems the Penguins will have to wait another few days before their Russian superstar returns.
The first period saw the Pens come out flying, in a period where they dictated the play and attacked the Islanders returning netminder. Just 3:22 into the first, Bryan Rust threw the puck on net from the point, beating Varlamov over the glove. A harmless shot turned into a nightmare for the Vezina trophy candidate, who seemed to whiff on the wrister. Before the end of the period, after waves of pressure from the Penguins, Jeff Carter doubled the teams lead after driving to the front of the net, and putting the puck through the legs of a sliding Varlamov to put the Pens up 2-0 heading into the second.
|03:22||PIT||Bryan Rust (1)|
|13:07||PIT||Jeff Carter (1)||Jared McCann, Kasperi Kapanen|
|14:44||NYI||Josh Bailey (1)||Brock Nelson|
The Islanders had a much better showing in the second period, but Tristan Jarry stood tall for the Pens, and it was not until the 14:44 mark of the period where the Isles had their breakthrough. Josh Bailey drove toward the slot and backhanded the puck into the top corner, again beating Jarry to his glove side, which is continuing to look more and more concerning for the Penguins goaltender.
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Despite heavy pressure through the third period, the Penguins buckled down defensively and held on for the narrow victory in what was once again a goaltending battle and a spirited affair in front of just over 9,000 Penguins fans at PPG Paints Arena.
Defenseman Mike Matheson described playing in front of an electric crowd: “That was pretty cool to be a part of. The building was going crazy. When you look up and see those towels spinning, with everything going on in the world and the fact that we haven’t been able to have everybody here this season, gives you chills.”
The series now shifts to Long Island for games three and four, and the Penguins hope to build off of the momentum gained in game two, and try to take control of the series. Game three will be Thursday night at 7PM EST at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.