Suddenly, it did not matter that the power play had squandered its first seven opportunities and looked pretty awful in the process.
That getting a shot on goal -- let alone a shot in goal -- had simply seemed like too much to ask for when the Penguins were awarded an extra man for most of the evening.
That all changed at 1:51 of overtime, when Alex Goligoski threw in a shot from below the left dot during a four-on-three to give the Penguins a 3-2 victory against the New York Islanders Friday night.
"We got one when it counted, I guess," Goligoski said.
His goal gave the Penguins their first two points at the Consol Energy Center and gave New York a rather inglorious footnote in franchise history. The Islanders were the last team to lose a regular-season game at Mellon Arena and are the first visiting club to drop one in the Penguins' new home.
Game: Penguins vs. at Philadelphia Flyers, 6:08 p.m. today, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia.
TV, radio, Internet: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9), www.penguins.nhl.com.
Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Sergei Bobrovsky for Flyers.
Penguins: Lost to Flyers, 3-2, in season opener. ... Sidney Crosby has 24 goals, 46 points in 33 games vs. Philadelphia. ... Mike Comrie was two power-play goals shy of 50 going into Friday night.
Flyers: Are 0-4-1 in past five home games vs. Penguins. ... Power play is 1 for 17 (5.9 percent). ... Nikolay Zherdev has 100 NHL goals.
Of note: This is the second of three meetings this month between the bitter rivals.
The Penguins' defense corps, already missing injured regulars Brooks Orpik and Zbynek Michalek, lost Kris Letang midway through the second period after he was determined to have given Islanders forward Blake Comeau an illegal hit to the head.
Letang was assessed a major penalty and game-misconduct, although televised replays suggested that he made shoulder-to-shoulder contact with Comeau, whose own shoulder pad appeared to strike him in the jaw.
"I just tried to put my stick on the puck first because that's how we play defense, and I put my shoulder on his shoulder," Letang said.
Penguins officials will ask the NHL to rescind Letang's major penalty -- a player receiving two game-misconducts for that infraction gets an automatic one-game suspension -- and seemed optimistic that it will happen.
At the very least, Letang will be available when the Penguins (2-3) play their second road game of the season at 6:08 tonight in Philadelphia.
Who Letang will be playing in front of then is not clear. Brent Johnson had a strong game, stopping 22 of 24 shots, but coach Dan Bylsma declined to say whether he or Marc-Andre Fleury will start against the Flyers.
Whoever it is can only hope the Penguins can match their penalty-killing work against the Islanders, who scored on one of six tries with the man-advantage. Three of the best kills came during the final 17 minutes of regulation.
"The penalty-kill was exceptional when it needed to be," said Bylsma.
So was the Islanders', at least until Goligoski put that puck by New York goalie Rick DiPietro early in overtime.
"I was just trying to get it high and get it on net before he could get back over there," said Goligoski, the only Penguins player to earn a point in each of the first five games.
The winner aside, however, the power play had another miserable performance, and the Penguins recognize that it requires a serious upgrade.
"Obviously, we have things to work on on the power play," Goligoski said. "I think we're maybe gripping it a little tight. It would not be a surprise if they were after getting three power plays during the final eight minutes of the opening period, but never coming close to scoring on any of them.
Mike Rupp finally gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead when he converted a Paul Martin rebound at 4:07 of the second, and Eric Tangradi made it 2-0 with his first goal in the NHL at 6:57, when his centering pass hit New York defenseman Milan Jurcina's skate and eluded DiPietro.
"I'm not going to score any pretty goals in my career," Tangradi said. "I think my first was an indication of that."
But the Penguins' momentum was short-circuited by the call against Letang at 7:48. Josh Bailey got New York within a goal by flipping a puck past Johnson from the edge of the crease at 11:18 and Radek Martinek threw in a shot from the inner edge of the left circle at 13:06.
Martinek's goal was the final by either club until Goligoski's winner.
Of course, after losing their first three games at home, the Penguins were not inclined to sweat the finer points of their first victory that counts there.
"It's good to get the first one, for sure," Goligoski said. "Especially for the fans. Just to get it over with."
For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Dave Molinari: firstname.lastname@example.org . First Published October 16, 2010 4:00 AM