Laraque nets deciding goal as Penguins edge IslandersNov 16, 2007 - 5:31 AM
Laraque snapped a tie late in the second period and defenseman Sergei Gonchar added a goal and an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the New York Islanders, 3-2, on Thursday.
Entering with a four-game losing streak, the Penguins inducted Paul Coffey into their Hall of Fame during a pregame ceremony. Gonchar, who also is a high-scoring defenseman, netted Pittsburgh's first goal and set up its second, which gave the club a 2-1 lead.
But with the contest tied in the middle session, Laraque was the player who came through for the Penguins.
"Tonight's game made a lot of people feel good," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said. "Georges scored a big goal, and you could see his emotion when he scored that goal."
Without a goal since January 17, the tough guy received a pass from captain Sidney Crosby and beat goaltender Rick DiPietro to the stick side from the slot with 3:15 left in the second, giving Pittsburgh a 3-2 edge. The tally, which was made possible when Crosby made a nifty move to elude defenseman Brendan Witt in the left faceoff circle after creating a turnover, was Laraque's first in 40 games.
"I think that's the longest drought of my career," said Laraque, who has 49 tallies in 574 career contests. "I didn't know if it was going to (end) because every game, I came close so many times. But getting close doesn't show in the scorebook."
"(Crosby) made a good pass and Laraque made a good shot," DiPietro said.
Crosby's assist extended his points streak to a league-high 18 contests. It also was his 250th career point.
"I was just trying to find a lane, find a stick, give him a chance at a shot," Crosby said of setting up the goal. "He did a great job putting it top shelf. It wasn't a fluky goal by any means. He buried it. I was happy to see him get one. With the role he has, it's a tough role to get any power plays or anything like that."
New York coach Ted Nolan put part of the blame for Witt's turnover on the condition of the ice surface.
"The ice wasn't preferable and the puck was bouncing a lot tonight," Nolan said. "We don't handle the puck well sometimes when the puck bounces like that. Witt turned the puck over to Sidney. Crosby made a great play to Laraque, and that's the difference."
Evgeni Malkin set up a pair of tallies and Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves and recorded an assist for the Penguins, who improved to 6-1-2 in their last nine home meetings with the Islanders.
The start was Fleury's first at home since October 27, when he was pulled after allowing three goals on 15 shots against Montreal.
"I was a little nervous at the beginning," he said. "I hadn't been playing in Pittsburgh for a while, so I was a little excited. But things went well. The guys got some goals, we got the lead, so that worked to relax me. ... And Georges scored, so it was a good night!"
"Marc-Andre was great tonight," Therrien said. "He was calm and I think he had a lot of fun. We had a good talk this morning. I really liked the way he competed and the way that he played."
The win was just Pittsburgh's second in eight overall games.
"The last couple games, we were close, but we weren't getting the bounces," Laraque said. "We knew if we kept working hard, they would go our way. Right now, we need everybody to help turn this thing around. Every line and every player is needed to help turn this around."
Crosby was happy to see the four-game skid end but guarded against becoming overconfident.
"It's nice to snap it. It's never a good feeling to lose, and as it keeps going, it builds and wears on you a bit," he said. "But we have to realize that just because we won one, it doesn't mean that those four are solved now. We did the right things (Thursday) and gave ourselves a chance to win. We need to do that consistently."
Mike Comrie opened the scoring at 14:17 of the first period, when he deflected a slap shot from the left point by Witt past Fleury, giving New York a 1-0 edge.
"That's been happening a lot lately," Fleury said. "But the guys kept working and we were able to get the next two goals."
Pittsburgh drew even with 98 seconds remaining in the session. Off a feed from 2007 Calder Trophy winner Malkin, Gonchar ripped a slapper from above the slot past a screened DiPietro for his fifth tally of the season.
Malkin's assist extended his points streak to 12 games.
Beginning the second with a two-man advantage, the Penguins cashed in just 58 seconds into the period.
Malkin grabbed a loose puck behind the net and attempted to stuff it inside the left goalpost, but DiPietro stopped it right at the goal line. Petr Sykora swooped in and jabbed it across for his eighth goal of the campaign and a 2-1 lead.
New York answered at 8:51, when Josef Vasicek stopped a weak wrist shot from the left point by defenseman Bruno Gervais in the low slot and forced Fleury to the ice before sliding the puck around the netminder for his sixth of the season.
DiPietro stopped 24 shots for the Islanders, who had won six of their previous eight games.
"We made some mistakes," DiPietro said. "I don't think that was our best effort, but we played well. I thought we had some good chances. They capitalized one more time than we did and got the win. It's unfortunate."
- NEW YORK: 2
Nov 15 10:09 PM
- NEW YORK: 2
End of 2nd
Nov 15 9:17 PM
NY ISLANDERS 2
2ND PRD: PIT - GEORGES LARAQUE 1 (SIDNEY CROSBY) 16:45
Islanders vs. PenguinsNov 15 9:11 PM
NY ISLANDERS 2
2ND PRD: NYI - JOSEF VASICEK 6 (BRUNO GERVAIS, SEAN BERGENHEIM) 8:51
Islanders vs. PenguinsNov 15 8:59 PM
NY ISLANDERS 1
2ND PRD: PIT - (PP) PETR SYKORA 8 (EVGENI MALKIN, SERGEI GONCHAR) 0:58
Islanders vs. PenguinsNov 15 8:44 PM
- NEW YORK: 1
End of 1st
Nov 15 8:25 PM
NY ISLANDERS 1
1ST PRD: PIT - SERGEI GONCHAR 5 (EVGENI MALKIN) 18:22
Islanders vs. PenguinsNov 15 8:24 PM
NY ISLANDERS 1
1ST PRD: NYI - MIKE COMRIE 6 (BRENDAN WITT, TRENT HUNTER) 14:17
Islanders vs. PenguinsNov 15 8:12 PM
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