Brooks Orpik scored 7:49 into overtime Saturday night as the Pittsburgh Penguins eliminated the New York Islanders with a 4-3 win in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series in front of a sellout crowd of 16,170 Nassau Coliseum.
The top-seeded Penguins appeared vulnerable after losing a fight-marred Game 4 that tied the series at two games apiece, but they moved beyond the first round for the first time since 2010 by blanking the eighth-seeded Islanders in Game 5 and coming back from three one-goal deficits on Saturday night before finally winning when Orpik’s goal gave Pittsburgh its only lead.
The Penguins will face Ottawa in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Jarome Iginla and Pascal Dupuis each scored tying goals for the Penguins before Paul Martin created the third tie with about six minutes left in the third.
Goalie Tomas Vokoun made 35 saves.
Michael Grabner, John Tavares and Colin McDonald scored goals and goalie Evgeni Nabokov made 17 saves for the Islanders, who were in the playoffs for the first time since 2007. They have not won a postseason series since 1993, when they knocked off the Penguins in the Patrick Division finals.
The Islanders gave the Penguins all they could handle in a tight and physical series and had a number of serious scoring chances until Orpik fired in the winner from just in front of the Stanley Cup Playoffs logo.
Grabner gave the Islanders their third lead of the game less than three minutes into the third after Keith Aucoin intercepted a pass deep in the Penguins zone and dished it to Grabner, who beat Vokoun from the right side.
The crowd erupted. Deafening chants of “Let’s Go Islanders!” filled the arena for several minutes.
Nabokov knocked a loose puck out of the goalmouth midway through the third period but he wasn’t seriously threatened until Martin took a pass from Evgeni Malkin and fired from just in front of the blueline to again tie the score.
Tavares gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead less than six minutes in when he took a no-look pass from Josh Bailey and threaded a shot past three players — including teammate Brad Boyes, who fell over as Tavares shot — and into the net.
The Penguins tied it at 7:39 when a streaking Iginla, in pursuit of Sidney Crosby, put back a Crosby shot that Nabokov had turned back on a breakaway.
The Islanders regained the lead with 37 seconds left in the first on McDonald’s backhand shot that capped a coast-to-coast rush started when Nabokov turned back a Crosby shot.
Vokoun was peppered with shots early in the second, but the Islanders could not extend the lead. The Penguins rewarded Vokoun’s efforts when Dupuis tied it midway through the period, just seconds after a failed power play expired.
The Islanders had two unsuccessful power plays in a span of just more than four minutes late in the second but could not sore. Both Nabokov and Vokoun made point-blank saves in the final two minutes to preserve the tie.
NOTES: The NHL announced Friday that Tavares and Crosby were two of the three finalists for the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the most valuable player. The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin is the third candidate. The last Islanders player to finish in the top three in Hart Trophy balloting was Bryan Trottier in 1984. … The Islanders entered Saturday 25-17 all-time when facing elimination. The Penguins were 28-27 when playing with the chance to eliminate a foe but winless in their last five such opportunities. Pittsburgh blew a 3-1 series lead against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and failed to close out Montreal after taking a 3-2 lead in the Eastern semifinals in 2010.
The article above provided by the Chicago Tribune.