NEW YORK —Nothing deterred the Islanders, certainly not scoring on their early power plays, nor their first deficit in their first-round series against the Penguins.
They played smarter and stood up physically to the Penguins in a chippy game with the scrums continuing after the final buzzer.
It all paid off in a dominant third period with two goals as the Islanders won, 3-1, to take a 2-0 series lead on Friday night before a delirious sell-out crowd of 13,917 at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.
Robin Lehner made 32 saves for the Islanders, who have won the first two games of a series for the first time since sweeping the 1983 Stanley Cup Final against the Oilers. The Islanders again held Sidney Crosby, who had just one shot, without a point.
The series shifts to Pittsburgh for Game 3 on Sunday afternoon and Game 4 on Tuesday night. A sweep will close the door on the Coliseum for this season as all subsequent rounds will be played at Barclays Center.
Jordan Eberle lifted a backhander over Matt Murray (31 saves) to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead at 7:54 of the third period, his second goal in the two games. In Game 1 Eberle scored his first career NHL playoff goal at 1:40 of the first period.
Eberle, in his second season with the Islanders and final season of a six-year, $36 million deal he signed with the Oilers, had 19 goals and 18 assists in 78 regular-season games. It was the fewest points he’s had over an 82-game schedule in his nine NHL seasons.
But he had six goals and one assist in 14 games after coach Barry Trotz put Eberle back on Barzal’s right wing for a 2-0 win over the Blue Jackets at the Coliseum on March 11.
“It’s been a whirlwind year,” Eberle said. “I didn’t have a great start to the year and, offensively, the puck didn’t go in as much as I wanted. The last 20 games, near the end of the season, I really turned it on and started to get some confidence. Any time the puck goes in the net you get that.”
Josh Bailey’s power-play goal at 11:38 of the third, off a rebound of Devon Toews’ shot, made it 3-1 as the Islanders finally converted on their sixth man-advantage chance.
The Islanders could not convert on two more power plays in the second period, including 54 seconds of five-on-three play that generated two shots as defenseman Erik Gudbranson high-sticked Barzal at 4:31 with Sidney Crosby already off for hooking.
Almost predictably, the Penguins took a 1-0 lead after the Islanders couldn’t take advantage of their power plays, with Gudbranson connecting from the blue line at 10:36 of the second period.
But Anthony Beauvillier led a two-on-one rush with Barzal and punched in the rebound to tie the game at 1 at 13:25 of the second period after Murray stopped Barzal.
As Beauvillier celebrated, Barzal and Gudbranson wrestled on the ice as a scrum erupted between the teams. Barzal received a double-minor for roughing to Gudbranson’s two minutes and the two continued yelling at each other from their respective penalty boxes.
The Penguins made it clear from the opening faceoff they wanted to match the Islanders’ physical play from Game 1, except it led to three power-play chances for the Islanders in the first period. Defenseman Jack Johnson’s interference on Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech in the neutral zone —he ran him over at 15:47 as he came out of the penalty box without the puck in the area —was among the more reckless plays.
But the Islanders managed just three shots on net in their 5:05 of man-advantage time in the first period, though Murray did have to make some tough saves. Most notably, he stopped Anders Lee’s redirection in the low slot at 13:46, then turned aside Bailey’s one-timer from the right circle and Brock Nelson’s rebound try at the near post. In the second period, he stretched with his glove to stop Matt Martin at the right post at 7:44.
Murray also got his right pad on Nick Leddy’s four-on-four rush off a defensive-zone faceoff win at 17:02 of the first period.