In Game 2 against the Islanders, the Penguins lived by Bryan Rust‘s hands, and almost needed to go to overtime because of them.
Rust took a penalty for closing his hand over the puck late in Game 2, but Pittsburgh held strong in that empty net + power play situation. The Penguins ended up winning 2-1, thus tying this First Round series 1-1.
Barry Trotz’s team rightly earned a brand as a great defensive team. That said, the Penguins have been able to lock things down more than people realize, particularly once they lost Evgeni Malkin to injury. The Penguins served up evidence of their defensive chops in their Game 2 win, as they held a 2-1 lead after failing to protect that same margin in Game 1.
Goalies mostly sharp in Penguins – Islanders Game 2
Heading into Game 2, Barry Trotz made the interesting choice to start Semyon Varlamov instead of Game 1 winner Ilya Sorokin. While there’s some logic — Sorokin probably wanted the Kasperi Kapanen goal back, at minimum — it’s bold to change goalies after a victory.
That decision only seemed more debatable after Semyon Varlamov allowed an absolutely brutal 1-0 goal to begin Game 2:
After that, Jeff Carter continued to make a positive impact for the Penguins by scoring the 2-0 tally.
Beyond the goalie choice there was another controversy surrounding the Isles’ net. Brandon Tanev went crashing into Varlamov during the second period when trying to create a chance. Tanev seemed to get the worst of it, but either way, it created a scrum.
Following a strong first period from the Penguins, the Islanders made Game 2 closer with a goal, sanding down Pittsburgh’s lead to 2-1. The Islanders were strong in the middle frame, highlighted by a beautiful backhand goal by Josh Bailey.
Varlamov eventually settled down and made some big saves, and Jarry was sharp in his own right. The combined shots on goal and hits in this one were 83 apiece.
PENGUINS VS. ISLANDERS (Series tied 1-1) – series livestream link
Sunday, May 16: Islanders 4, Penguins 3 (OT)
Tuesday, May 18: Penguins 2, Islanders 1
Thursday, May 20: Penguins at Islanders, 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Saturday, May 22: Penguins at Islanders, 3 p.m. ET (NBC)
Monday, May 24: Islanders at Penguins TBD
*Wednesday, May 26: Penguins at Islanders TBD
*Friday, May 28: Islanders at Penguins TBD
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.