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Brock Nelson can’t explain why the New York Islanders have fallen behind the last three times they’ve played the Pittsburgh Penguins — only to come from behind late for a win against their division rival.
Nelson capped the latest rally, scoring on a breakaway in overtime to lead the Islanders to a 4-3 victory Thursday night.
“I don’t know what the reason for that is, but we’ve found ourselves in that situation a few times,” Nelson said, “and we’ve been able to come out with victories.”
Nelson beat Tristan Jarry to the blocker side at 2:13 of the extra period as the Islanders — who trailed 3-1 late in the third — swept the season series against the Penguins for the first time in franchise history. New York also solidified its first winning record on the road at Pittsburgh since the 2014-15 season.
Nelson scored five goals and had nine points in four games against Pittsburgh this season.
Anders Lee had two goals and Hudson Fasching also scored for the Islanders, who scored twice in the final 5:29 of regulation to force overtime. Ilya Sorokin stopped 33 shots and assisted on the winning goal for New York, which is two points ahead of Pittsburgh for the top wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Islanders, who won their eighth game when trailing through two periods, have outscored opponents 17-1 in the third period in their last 10 games.
“It sounds easy, but it’s a tight game,” Nelson said. “You have to stick with it. In the third, I thought we did a better job of that.”
Jake Guentzel, Jason Zucker and Josh Archibald scored for Pittsburgh. Jarry made 24 saves for the Penguins, who have lost two of three following a four-game winning streak. Pittsburgh has lost 10 of its last 11 against division opponents.
“It’s tough to swallow,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “I feel badly for the players because I felt for the majority of the night, we were the better team. We had some momentary lapses and they got back in the game.”
The Islanders blasted Pittsburgh 5-1 at home on Dec. 27 before a pair of come-from-behind regulation wins against the Penguins last month that mirrored Thursday’s rally. Pittsburgh led twice, but lost in regulation both times last month.
Fasching started the latest Islanders comeback against Pittsburgh with his second goal in as many games. He made it a 3-2 game at 14:31 of the third on a feed from Casey Cizikas.
Lee tied it at 3 with 1:15 to play in regulation. It was his 26th goal of the season and seventh in four games against Pittsburgh. Lee redirected Noah Dobson’s point shot between Jarry’s legs from the top of the crease.
“It’s a huge character win to be able to come out and do that in the third period,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said.
Evgeni Malkin took an interference penalty at 4:44 of the first period, setting the franchise record for career penalty minutes with 1,050, surpassing Kevin Stevens.
Lee and the Islanders took advantage with a power-play goal at 5:23.
Guentzel tied it at 11:07 when he redirected Marcus Pettersson’s point shot behind Sorokin for his 26th goal. The assist was Pettersson’s 100th NHL point. He became the 37th member of the 2014 NHL draft class to reach 100 points and the sixth defenseman.
Zucker gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead at 18:24. Archibald made it 3-1 at 10:49 of the second.
But the Islanders rallied in the third period for another win against Pittsburgh.
“You’re going to have nights where you’re a little bit off,” Lambert said. “The key to a good hockey team is to find a way to win a game like that, and we did.”
Top: New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) celebrates his overtime goal with center Brock Nelson as they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 9, 2023, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Philip G. Pavely)