UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Dany Sabourin has been a goaltender for most of his life, and has made tens of thousands of pad saves.
But very few quite like this.
And none, he said, when the outcome of a game was at stake, as it was at the end of the shootout that gave the Penguins a 4-3 victory against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum last night.
The Penguins led the shootout, 1-0, on a Petr Sykora goal. And because Sabourin already had stopped Doug Weight and Bill Guerin of New York, Islanders forward Trent Hunter had to score to keep the game going.
Hunter moved toward the net, snapped a shot ... and the puck disappeared even as Sabourin's body began to slide into the net.
A few seconds later, Sabourin reached down and pulled out the puck from between his leg and the inside of his right leg pad.
The on-ice ruling was that Hunter had not scored, and there was not enough evidence for a video review to change that, mostly because X-ray vision would have been needed to see through Sabourin's pad and determine if the puck actually was trapped in a part of his equipment that had crossed the goal line.
"Based on the video, that was the right call, because you can't see the puck," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said.
Sabourin couldn't see it any better than anyone else, of course, but did have a feel for its location.
"It was right where my knee is," he said. "It was probably a tight call, if you could have seen the puck. I think my knee was close [to the goal line], but ...
"It was kind of funny. It was in my pad, but I didn't know what to do. Maybe I should have just gotten up and started celebrating."
As it was, Sabourin and his teammates had to wait a few minutes for that, but no one really seemed to mind. Not after the Penguins (8-4-2) had worked so hard in the final 20 minutes of regulation to put themselves in a position to take two points home with them.
They trailed, 3-2, after two periods, but seemed keenly aware that the Islanders had surrendered third-period leads in three of their previous four games and had been outscored, 10-2, in the third during that span.
And coach Michel Therrien made that bit of information known during the second intermission to anyone who might not have realized it.
"Coach came in [before] the third period and said they blew a lot of leads," said center Jordan Staal, who scored the Penguins' second goal and turned in his strongest game of the season.
The Penguins responded by outshooting New York, 18-1, during the final 20 minutes of regulation and keeping the play in the Islanders' end for nearly the entire period.
"They shot from everywhere," Gordon said. "A lot of those shots were [from] weak angles that led to sustained pressure."
Even so, it took nearly 17 minutes for the Penguins to get the goal that forced overtime. Tyler Kennedy, who had scored the Penguins' first goal, made it 3-3 at 16:45 when he deflected an Alex Goligoski shot past New York goalie Joey MacDonald.
"We were aware we had the guys in here to come back, for sure," Kennedy said. "Everyone was pretty confident in here that we could come back."
And they did not, apparently, begin to doubt that they would score, even as time was beginning to wind down.
"Shift after shift, we just wanted to keep coming." center Sidney Crosby said. "We wanted to play desperate for 20 minutes and see where that took us."
They didn't do that during the first period, when they were credited with just two shots on MacDonald and the most noteworthy development was an injury scare when an Andy Sutton slap shot struck Evgeni Malkin in the left hand.
Malkin missed the first four-plus minutes of the second period, but returned to assist on Staal's goal at 16:01.
His teammates staged a comeback of their own a bit later, and Sabourin punctuated it with one of the biggest -- and most unusual -- saves of the season.
Dave Molinari can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org First Published November 9, 2008 5:00 AM