Despite being one of the NHL’s hottest teams entering the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins are on the verge of another postseason meltdown.
The New York Islanders beat the Penguins 3-2 on a Josh Bailey’s gift-goal in the second overtime Monday to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series.
The Penguins dominated Game 5 for long stretches, outshooting New York 50-28 only to be stymied by Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin. The Penguins tossed away the game with three mistakes in their own zone. They all resulted in goals. The worst was by goaltender Tristan Jarry. He tried to make a breakout pass up the middle of the ice and saw Bailey steal it and score 51 seconds into the second overtime.
“I’m a pretty easygoing person, so it’s just about going about my business and doing what I can to be better the next day,” Jarry said Tuesday.
The must-win scenario is not what the Penguins expected after posting a 26-8-2 record from March 2 through the end of the regular season. They now face a second straight postseason disappointment after being ousted by 12th-seeded Montreal in last year’s qualifying round.
Coach Mike Sullivan, who led Pittsburgh to Stanley Cup wins in 2016 and ’17, remains upbeat.
“We’ve got to win one hockey game. That’s the way I look at it,” he said. “That’s what I said to the players after the game. We have a lot of leadership that has been through a lot of experiences in this league, especially in the playoffs. We’ll just keep this thing in perspective.”
The Islanders have defeated the Penguins in four of their five postseason meetings, including a four-game sweep two years ago.
Islanders coach Barry Trotz said his team is focused on Wednesday, not beyond.
“When we get to our game and we’re able to stay with our game, we’re in those in those really important clinching games and and we’ve had success,” he said. “When we haven’t been able to, then it’s a little more difficult.”