Game 1: Penguins, Isles each show blueprint in series opener

Losses in 10 of their last 11 playoff games, the Pittsburgh Penguins keep losing playoff games and are now chasing their first round series.

Kyle Palmieri scored his second goal of the game at 16:30 of overtime to deliver a 4-3 OT win for the New York Islanders in Game 1 on Sunday afternoon. Palmieri starred for the Islanders with the opening goal of the game and the OT winner, while Brock Nelson and JG Pageau also scored in the win. Backup netminder Ilya Sorokin provided a number of timely saves and shined with a 39-save performance after getting the nod due to No. 1 netminder Seymon Varlamov being held out for precautionary reasons.

For Pittsburgh, Freddy Gaudreau, Sidney Crosby and Kasperi Kapanen all scored in the loss, while Tristan Jarry made 37 in his second career post-season game.

Kris Letang led all skaters with 32:26 of ice time.

— The elephant in the room after the Penguins Game 1 loss was clearly Tristan Jarry. Jarry had a number of big-time stops throughout, but, one goaltender allowed leaky goals to get through him and one didn’t. That will put you on the losing side of playoff games.

Although the Islanders started to find their game a bit late in the second period that carried over into the third, Pittsburgh loses this series, the Pageau goal will be remembered as the series changer, even if it was just Game 1. That was what should have just been such a routine save.

Mike Sullivan afterwards took a positive approach to Jarry’s performance.

“I thought Tristan made some big saves throughout the course of the game to keep the game where it was at,” said Sullivan.

The biggest question with Jarry coming in was going to be his consistency throughout the series. What the Penguins didn’t want after Game 1 was the microscope already being on him as much as it will be in how he responds for Game 2.

Meanwhile, the Islanders taking Game 1 and Sorokin playing as well as he did, opens the door to be cautious again with Varlamov.

The Islanders came into Game 1 with the mindset, go with Sorokin for Game 1 to give Varlamov a few more days off and come back with Varlamov for Game 2, but we’ll see if Trotz decides against messing with a winning lineup.


A positive spin for the Penguins:

Sunday afternoon didn’t have the same feel of the type of hockey club we saw in the 2019 and 2020 postseasons……at least not yet….

Game 1 showed a lot of what was expected between Penguins – Islanders.

A tight game on the scoreboard all game, but for key stretches, especially on, you saw a superior Penguins team 5 vs 5 in an ability to dictate the pace. How quick the Penguins exited the zone and countering by turning defense into offense just inside the neutral zone was clockwork for the first period and some.

“They came out flying“ Isles head coach Barry Trotz said of the Penguins.

Defending as a group, Pittsburgh was flawless early on in how they gave the Islanders little time and space to create offense off the cycle. Pittsburgh was systematic fast, a staple of their turnaround in play since February as the Penguins had the script in making the Islanders do a lot of chasing in all three zones.

Pittsburgh’s A-game 5 vs 5 is head and shoulders above the Islanders, but the Islanders doing what they do, though, survived the first period wave by the Penguins and slowly but slowly started to tilt the flow of play as the game progressed.

Was it just a classic typical playoff game between two good hockey clubs where the flows of the game are going to tilt to each side or was it something more that is going to force the Penguins hand to have to adjust?

As the game progressed, Pittsburgh became more more less threatening in attacking with a speed/skilled game and you saw the structure defensively start to crack a bit. The Islanders were able to flip course in forcing the Penguins to defend below the dots. This isn’t always the case but the eye test in period three matched the possession stats as the Islanders controlled 65% of shot attempts in period three at even strength.


— There was no Evgeni Malkin for Game 1 who is dealing with a lingering sofTo read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!