Josh Bailey’s late goal capped the Islanders’ furious third-period rally as New York edged the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 on Friday night to help erase the painful memory of last season’s playoff loss to the Penguins.
Bailey took a feed from Frans Nielsen in front of the net and beat goalie Jeff Zatkoff for his fourth goal of the season as the Islanders scored three times in the final seven minutes to erase deficits of 2-1 and 3-2.
The meeting was the first between the teams since a tense playoff series last spring. The heavily favored Penguins survived in six games, winning the clincher on Books Orpik’s overtime goal.
Nielsen, Matt Moulson and Pierre-Marc Bouchard also scored for New York, and defenseman Radek Martinek had two assists in his season debut. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 39 shots.
Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby scored his eighth goal of the season and now has an NHL-high 18 points. Jussi Jokinen and Deryk Engelland also beat Nabokov, but could not stop the Penguins from losing their second straight.
Zatkoff, playing in his second NHL game, made 21 saves.
Pittsburgh dominated the game’s first 50 minutes, peppering Nabokov relentlessly. The veteran hung in long enough for New York’s lifeless offense to get going.
Nielsen evened it 2-2 with 7 minutes, 14 seconds remaining on a nifty deflection. The tie lasted all of 16 seconds as Engelland — a defenseman being used as a fourth-line forward due to Penguins injuries — crashed the net for his first goal in 61 games.
However, New York kept coming. Shortly after Engelland’s tally, Bouchard took advantage of a Pittsburgh turnover deep in its own end and deked his way by Zatkoff to make it 3-3.
The Penguins’ defense gave Bailey two chances to bury the game-winner. Zatkoff made a sprawling save to stop Bailey on the doorstep, but the goalie could not grab the rebound. Nielsen immediately fed Bailey again and he kept jabbing at the puck until it found its way behind Zatkoff, setting off a celebration on the Islanders bench.
In Columbus, Ohio, Marian Gaborik scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period, while Sergei Bobrovsky made it stand up to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Bobrovsky, last season’s Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s top goalie, had 23 saves.
Brandon Dubinsky added a short-handed goal, Nick Foligno also scored, Ryan Johansen had an empty-netter and rookie defenseman Ryan Murray notched his first career goal for the Blue Jackets, who have won three in a row since losing four straight.
Phil Kessel and Dave Bolland had goals for the Maple Leafs.
In other games on Friday, Steve Ott scored the go-ahead goal, Jhonas Enroth made 44 saves and the Buffalo Sabres beat the Florida Panthers 3-1 and Ryan Getzlaf scored the winner in the Anaheim Ducks’ 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.
Ryan Kesler scored off a power play in overtime to lift the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-2 win over the St Louis Blues and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2.