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Islanders vs. Penguins: Better team doesn’t always win (Highlights)

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - FEBRUARY 20: Oliver Wahlstrom #26 of the New York Islanders and Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins compete for the puck in the first period during their game at PPG PAINTS Arena on February 20, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - FEBRUARY 20: Oliver Wahlstrom #26 of the New York Islanders and Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins compete for the puck in the first period during their game at PPG PAINTS Arena on February 20, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /
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These two teams last played two nights ago. In that game, the Pittsburgh Penguins were able to hand the New York Islanders their first regulation loss in nine games with a 4-1 win. If there was one thing that plagued the Isles in that loss it was a lack of effort.

Unlike some teams, the New York Islanders can’t get by on talent alone. They need to dig deep, hound the puck carrier, outwork the opposition, and bury some of the better chances they get. But on Thursday, they weren’t doing any of it. Which is why they lost.

New York Islanders deserved more than they got

With the Sidney Crosby 1,00th game celebration, the Penguins should have had the momentum early, but the Isles came out of the gates flying. Which tracks with how they needed to address the loss in the last game.

Through the first 40, the Islanders held 63.8% of scoring chances, 68.75% HDCF, and 88.35% of the xGF. They were the dominant team but still left the period level at 1-1 thanks to a Jordan Eberle goal. (Stats from NaturalStatTrick.)

Brock Nelson would hand the Islanders the lead less than a minute into the third period with his first goal at 5on5 on the year as the Isles opened the third as they played the first two. Just creating chance after chance in the offensive end.

But as is customary when the Islanders play the Penguins, a few defensive mistakes end up costing them. In six minutes of the third period, the Pens found the net twice. First, it was Mike Matheson who slipped through a weak Mathew Barzal backcheck. Then it was Kris Letang with his second of the game when he ripped a shot from the point after some poor d-play down low.

The Islanders played well enough to win this game but left without a point (in two games). They controlled the play from start to finish. They were the better team. And like Barry said after the game: “life isn’t always fair.”

Winners

Kris Letang (2G): Big game from Letang today. Two key goals helped his team get two points.
Sidney Crosby (2A): He’s now up to 118 points in 71 games against the Islanders.
Tritan Jarry (0.943SV%): Jarry was great tonight for the Penguins.

Losers

Anders Lee (-2): He was a non-factor tonight for the Islanders.
Pierre-Olivier Joseph (-2): Not sure what he was doing on Eberle’s goal.
Semyon Varlamov (0.833SV%): This wasn’t one of his best outings. It wasn’t all his fault, but he could have been better.

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