The Upshot: The Islanders Defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 in Game 82

The NY Islanders have split the season series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in game 82
Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders
Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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HOW IT HAPPENED

The NY Islanders began their 82nd and first non-must-win game of the season against the Pittsburgh Penguins with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen. The Islanders announced before warm ups that captain Anders Lee would be missing the game due to personal reasons. Sebastian Aho slotted back into the lineup, and rookie Ruslan Iskhakov makes his long awaited NHL debut.

Despite this not being a must-win game, the Islanders came out of the gate with a few good chances, including on the power play less than a minute in. Oliver Wahlstrom drew the penalty in his return to the lineup. Five minutes into the first, Simon Holmstrom sauced a pass over to Brock Nelson who buries the puck past Alex Nedelcovych. Rickard Rakell tied the game at one with two minutes to play in the first, shooting low glove on Ilya Sorokin. JG Pageau left the Islanders bench at 9:18 left in the first after taking an awkward fall on a scoring chance. Evgeni Malkin gave the Pens the 2-1 lead with a powerplay goal. It was reviewed for a kicking motion but was determined a good goal, not that the home crowd agreed. After a very obvious kicked-in goal by Nelson was called off, Casey Cizikas tied the game (for real) tipping in a shot from Alexander Romanov. Just two minutes later, Valtteri Puustinen gave the Penguins the lead back with 5 to play in the second period. With 15 seconds remaining in the second period, on the power play, Kyle Palmieri one times his 30th goal of the season for the tie game.

Samuel Bolduc opened the third period with a power play goal and his second goal of the season. Iskhakov got his first career NHL point with the secondary assist on the goal! In a storybook ending to his career, Jeff Carter tied the game at 4 on the power play. This will be his final NHL game. Four minutes later, Simon Holmstrom gave the Islanders the lead back with his 15th goal of the season. With 20 seconds left in the game, and a pileup in Sorokin's crease, the Penguins were awarded a penalty shot that could tie the game. But Ilya Sorokin stopped Sidney Crosby keeping the lead. Despite the ending drama, the Islanders held off the Penguins to finish off their season with a win!

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Despite this game basically being for fun, the Islanders did a good job focusing on their pain points before the playoffs. Their power play was a lot stronger tonight going 2/3 on the night, even missing Mat Barzal, Anders Lee, Noah Dobson and Pageau. They also did a good job with sustained zone time, playing physically (but cautious) and not letting up on the puck. They continued to excel defensively, again even when playing cautiously as to not risk injury. Their zone entried and breakouts were cleaner then they've been.

Iskhakov, Wahlstrom, and Bolduc all played great games, and while it's unlikely we will see any of them play in the postseason- Iskhakov especially- it was good to see them play a solid game and get some ice time just in case. Each of them just went out there to have fun, and they all seemed more relaxed, improving all of their games. Its especially nice since this may be Wahlstrom's last game in an Islanders uniform.

WHAT WENT WRONG

After tonight, it's obvious that Patrick Roy will start Semyon Varlamov in the playoffs. Sorokin played a good game but looked shaky. That first Penguins goal under the glove is one that he has let up all season despite never allowing goals like that last year. The Islanders need him to relax and play his game in case he needs to go in in the playoffs.

STATS OF THE GAME

Tonight marked career game number 500 for Adam Pelech and number 400 for Mike Riley

Brock Nelson heads into the postseason with four goals in his last three games and points in his last five games.

With his goal tonight, Kyle Palmieri has matched his career high in goals (30), his career high came in 2015-16 with the New Jersey Devils.

The Islanders will end the season with three 30-goal scorers (Palmieri, Bo horvat and Nelson) for the first time since 1993-94.

SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME

He's already comfortable with the group 😁

WHAT'S NEXT

The Islanders will take on the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.Puck drop for game one is at 5pm on Saturday at PNC Arena