new york islanders
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins draw level with the New York Islanders after grinding out a hard-fought 2-1 win in Game 2.

Here we go. The New York Islanders are in for a grind-it-out series against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. After coming from behind to win in Game 1, the Isles couldn’t follow it up with a repeat performance.

1st Period: Not a great start

The first period didn’t start out great for the Islanders. It only took a few minutes for Bryan Rust to find the back of the net. He scored on an unassisted goal after a Ryan Pulock turnover led to a shot on Semyon Varlamov.

The rust was evident early for Varlamov. He should have been able to glove the shot by Rust to keep the game level at 0-0. With that said, Varlamov wasn’t the main issue in the first period. The Isles lacked the energy to keep up with the Penguins.

Jeff Carter picked out an opportunistic goal later in the period which turned out to be the game-winner. The Islanders played well for most of the game, but the first period doomed them.


2nd Period: Signs of life

It took some time, but the Islanders finally began showing signs of life in the second period. Josh Bailey netted a nasty backhand goal to cut the deficit in half. Mathew Barzal started to make an impact during his shifts. Heck, even the penalty kill seemed to provide a lift for the Isles.

Unfortunately, Tristan Jarry made enough big saves to protect the lead for the Penguins. New York had a handful of chances to tie it up and it seemed like they were destined to break through at some point.


3rd Period: Staring contest

The third period was all about Varlamov and Jarry. Neither goaltender blinked in this period despite the fact that both teams had their chances. The early goals for the Penguins were enough.


Key Moment in the Game: Bryan Rust’s goal

Varlamov was spectacular for most of this game, but his momentary lapse on Bryan Rust was the difference in this game. Jarry was far too good for the Isles to overcome a bad goal like that.

Although it’s impossible to know how Ilya Sorokin would have fared in Game 2, he would have been able to stop that shot.


Player of the Game: Semyon Varlamov

OK, his soft goal to Rust was a key moment in this game, but Varlamov was fantastic from that point forward. The Russian netminder made 43 saves in this game and if he can carry this momentum forward, the Isles are going to be in good shape.


NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.