/Penguins rally in 3rd, win Sidney Crosbys 1000th game – TribLIVE

Penguins rally in 3rd, win Sidney Crosbys 1000th game – TribLIVE


Prior to Saturday’s game at PPG Paints Arena, the Pittsburgh Penguins took to the ice en masse to celebrate their captain.

The 20 players who officially dressed for the contest surrounded Sidney Crosby. So did the healthy scratches such as defenseman Chad Ruhwedel and forward Colton Sceviour and even those on injured reserve, including forward Jared McCann and defenseman Juuso Riikola, took to the ice in full uniform.

After all, it was a time to honor the franchise pillar on the occasion of his 1,000th career game.

Crosby held a ceremonial silver stick and took a handful of photos with his teammates in the east end of PPG Paints Arena.

It was a profound moment for anyone with an interest in the Penguins.

It might have also been the most cohesive display of teamwork the Penguins offered before the third period opened.

Shaking off a sluggish effort through the first 40-plus minutes of regulation, the Penguins were able to mount a comeback in the third period and defeat the New York Islanders, 3-2.

It marked the fifth time this season the Penguins rebounded from a deficit in the final frame to claim a victory.

“Even if we don’t have our A-game or one of those off nights, we can actually still be in the fight to win and get some points in the standings,” Penguins defenseman Kris Letang said. “This team never gives up. It doesn’t matter. We keep working hard.”

Despite being badly outshot most of the game — the Islanders finished with a 35-18 advantage in that metric — the Penguins were able to stay in the contest thanks to another strong effort by goaltender Tristan Jarry who finished with 33 saves.

Over his past four games, Jarry has stopped 131 of 140 shots, equating to a save percentage of .935.

“I mean, Tristan won us that game, hands down,” Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson said. “After the second period … we had no reason to be in that game. We didn’t play the way we should or need to to stay with a team like the Islanders. But he kept us in it, and did so through the third period as well.”

The Penguins actually claimed the first lead at 12:35 of the second period thanks to Letang getting his first goal of the season on a power-play.

But an offensive zone turnover between Penguins forwards Evgeni Malkin and Jason Zucker led to the Islanders tying the game, 1-1, less than three minutes later. Off the turnover, Islanders forward Jordan Eberle made a dazzling rush off the right wing and collected his seventh goal at the 15:28 mark.

Only 53 seconds into the third, another turnover by Zucker, this time in the defensive zone, led to Islanders forward Brock Nelson claiming his fifth goal with a wrister from the high slot.

It took a determined effort by Matheson to forge a tie at 7:35 of the third. Skating a puck out of danger from his own zone — from behind his own net, specifically — Matheson allowed forward Teddy Blueger to gain the offensive zone then deal a pass from the right corner to the right circle back to Matheson who ripped a wrister past goaltender Semyon Varlamov’s blocker on the far side for his first goal since joining the Penguins this past offseason.

The Penguins took the lead for good at 13:34 of the third. After Penguins forwards Jake Guentzel and Brandon Tanev won a puck battle on the Islanders’ end boards, Crosby dealt a pass from near the left corner to the left point for Letang who surveyed a shooting lane and chucked a wrister past Varlamov’s blocker.

The victory was important as it pushed the Penguins ahead of the Islanders for fourth place in the East Division.

But this triumph appeared to carry a greater deal of significance for their captain.

“It means a lot,” Crosby said. “It’s a special day regardless of the outcome. But it makes it so much better when you win. Just everything from the guys, the ceremony in the room (and) on the ice. Just completely spoiled today. It was a pretty awesome experience. A day that I’ll always remember and just even sweeter that we were able to win.”

Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Seth by email at srorabaugh@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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Penguins/NHL | Sports

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