Following a heartbreaking overtime loss on Sunday in Game 3, the eighth-seeded Isles edged the top-seeded Penguins 6-4 on Tuesday with three goals in a frenzied third period to even the series 2-2.
Goaltending took a back seat Tuesday night, with both Marc-Andre Fleury and Evgeni Nabokov giving up a few questionable goals throughout the course of a frenzied game 4, but the crowd at Nassau Coliseum didn't seem to mind. The two teams traded goals until Islanders star John Tavares delivered the game-winner in the third.
Snapping a 4-4 draw, Tavares made a terrific move to stick handle his way to the net and chase his own rebound to beat Fleury. The dramatic goal caused a boisterous crowd at Nassau Coliseum to erupt into cheers of "M-V-P!" as the Penguins scrambled to collect themselves. Fleury didn't help matters, though, as his blunder late in the game allowed Casey Cizikas to add an insurance goal with 1:16 to play.
Trading chances: For the second time in the game, the Islanders allowed a lead to quickly evaporate. After captain Mark Streit's first goal of the night gave the Isles a 2-1 edge in the second period, the Penguins answered 58 seconds later when Evgeni Malkin converted a 2-on-1 rush. The Penguins later took a 3-2 lead on Brandon Sutter’s shot from the left circle that beat a screened Evgeni Nabokov, but this time it was the Islanders who responded.
Soft goal: Scrutinized for his meltdown in the Penguins’ first-round series against the Flyers last spring, Fleury has been on the hot seat this series. He didn’t help his case by giving up a softie for the game-tying goal with 1:24 remaining in the second. Kyle Okposo threw the puck on net from behind the goal line, banking it in off Fleury’s pads to knot the score at three heading into the second intermission.
Close call: Once again, Crosby was the recipient of a hazardous deflected puck, though Tuesday night’s close call appeared to be just that. In his third game back from a fractured jaw, Crosby was stung in the throat by a piece of Brian Strait’s shot that glanced off the stick of Chris Kunitz. In a poor display, Islanders fans cheered as Crosby doubled over and skated to the opposite end of the ice. He eventually went to the bench, where he was briefly treated by the team’s trainer, and returned to the ice.
Tied after one: Strait, whose Game 3 penalty on Crosby led to the game-winning power-play goal, gave the Isles a 1-0 lead late in the first period on a seeing-eye shot that beat Fleury at 14:05, but the Isles gave one right back less than a minute later. James Neal, who returned after suffering an injury in Game 1 of the series, ripped a sharp-angle shot past Nabokov 45 seconds later to tie the game, 1-1.
Man down: Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald was forced from the game in the second period after taking Douglas Murray’s shot to the arm. Should the injury sideline MacDonald for Game 5, that would be a significant loss for the Islanders blue line. The 26-year-old plays on the team’s top pairing with youngster Travis Hamonic.
Up Next: Islanders at Penguins, Thursday at 7.