UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Evgeni Malkin scored the game-tying goal with 18 seconds left, and the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied for a 4-3 shootout win against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday.
Zach Aston-Reese scored in his season debut, and Casey DeSmith made 26 saves for the Penguins (6-5-1), who trailed by one goal three times.
“They’re a good team defensively,” Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang said. “They converge really well at their net and block a lot of shots. ‘Geno’ did a good job of getting open, and it’s just a great shot. That’s what he does well. And we had great traffic in front, so great play all around.”
Casey Cizikas, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mathew Barzal scored, and Semyon Varlamov made 32 saves for the Islanders (5-4-3), who extended their point streak to five games (2-0-3).
“There’s no reconciliation, you collect points in this league,” New York coach Barry Trotz said. “Every night if you can get a point, it’s huge. We’ll take points every night. We’ll be in a good shape, I guarantee you that. You look at a weekly segment, if you can get four or five points a week, you’re in pretty good shape. We’re doing that.
“It’s not about anything else but collecting points. At the end of the day you look up and see how many points you have, and if you’ve got enough to get in (the Stanley Cup Playoffs), then you’re in and you’ve got a shot.”
Malkin tied it 3-3 on a one-timer with DeSmith pulled for an extra attacker after Barzal gave New York a 3-2 lead at 13:35 of the third period when he collected the puck at center ice, skated past Pittsburgh defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph in the left face-off circle and beat DeSmith with a wrist shot bar down.
Sidney Crosby scored the only goal of the shootout in the second round. DeSmith made saves against Jordan Eberle, Barzal and Josh Bailey.
“It’s a huge goal for us,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “I think we needed a win for our confidence. I love how our guys dug in down the stretch. … [Letang] makes a good pass. He puts it right in Geno’s wheelhouse, and obviously he can really shoot the puck.”
Aston-Reese tied it 2-2 on his rebound at 7:02 of the second period. The forward, who had shoulder surgery in August and missed the first 11 games of the season, had five shots on goal in 14:12 of ice time.
“There was just hesitation [before the surgery],” Aston-Reese said. “I know going into battles, whether it was a battle or a fight or just kind of cross-checking around, there was a chance of my shoulder potentially slipping out. So to not have to worry about that anymore and have that hesitation out of my game is huge for me, especially the way I play.”
Cizikas scored at 5:39 of the first period when he gained control of the puck in front of the net from Penguins defenseman John Marino and managed to go from backhand to forehand while falling down to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.
“I might have blacked out there for a second,” Cizikas said. “It was just a battle for the puck and I was able to make a move somehow and put it in the back of the net.”
Bryan Rust redirected Jake Guentzel‘s pass to tie it 1-1 at 11:47.
Varlamov kept the game tied when he got his left pad on Aston-Reese’s shorthanded chance on a 2-on-0 at 15:23.
Pageau then gave New York a 2-1 lead at 16:40 when he redirected Nick Leddy‘s shot from the point for a power-play goal.
“We played a pretty good game tonight,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said. “We played a good hockey team. It’s tight, it’s tied up at the end and we were just short on the extra one.
“But any night you can get obviously one [point], you can build off of that and you can add it to the point total in all those things. It’s definitely better than zero. We’ve obviously had that stretch a week ago or so, so it’s nice to be on this side of it for now.”
NOTES: Cizikas has scored in back-to-back games and has a three-game point streak. … Pittsburgh recalled forward Frederick Gaudreau from the taxi squad and placed forward Jared McCann (lower body) on injured reserve retroactive to Feb. 6.