Isles sweep home-and-home with PensMar 30, 2012 - 3:01 AM
Indeed, if the New York Rangers hang on to win the Atlantic Division for the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed, they might just owe a hat-tip to their in- state rivals to the east.
Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey scored two goals apiece and the Islanders finished off a home-and-home sweep of the Penguins with a 5-3 win on Thursday night.
The Islanders also won 5-3 in Pittsburgh on Tuesday -- their first win in the Steel City since 2007 and first victory over the Penguins since last season.
The Penguins, who have now suffered three regulation losses in their last four games after going more than a month without one, remained five points behind the idle Rangers with five games remaining.
They have given up 20 goals in those four games.
"We've got to worry about our game. The standings will be the standings," said Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal, who had a goal. "We want to win games and right now we're not playing our best hockey and we're losing."
Bailey ended with five points, Marty Reasoner scored for the first time as an Islander and Al Montoya made 26 saves in the team's third straight win.
Staal and Evgeni Malkin scored for the Penguins in the third period to make it a one-goal game. Malkin's 47th goal gave him an NHL-leading 100 points and Pascal Dupuis also lit the lamp in the loss.
Marc-Andre Fleury gave up four goals on 23 shots for the Pens, who are 14-3-1 in their last 18 games.
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby was out of the game for around nine minutes in the second period after he was hit in the face by a puck off the stick of Islanders defenseman Dylan Reese.
Crosby, who has missed much of the season with concussion-like symptoms and a neck injury, was bloodied but returned to the ice and played the rest of the game.
Islanders coach Jack Capuano remained level-headed after another win against a team fighting for its playoff position.
"We just try to prepare for every game like we've done all season," Capuano said. "It's business."
New York took a 1-0 lead 11:07 into the game on Reasoner's first goal since March 8, 2011, with the Panthers. He beat Fleury through the legs from the slot and the Islanders never fell behind despite a late-game surge by the Penguins.
While Crosby was out, Dupuis tied the game for Pittsburgh with a short-handed goal from the left circle, beating Montoya to the far side with a wrister at the 8:37 mark.
Okposo's power-play goal came after he sent the puck toward the crease from the left side and it was deflected into the net. Nino Niederreiter and Pens defenseman Deryk Engelland were battling for position in front at the time.
Bailey pushed New York's lead to 3-1 just two minutes later, at 18:36, after Malkin turned the puck over at the blue line on a Penguins power play. Bailey gained possession when the puck was tipped out by Jay Pandolfo and raced Malkin back to the Pittsburgh goal, deking to his backhand to beat Fleury for the short-handed tally.
Okposo snuck into the slot and beat Fleury 5:52 into the third period to make it 4-1, but Staal split two defenders and flipped a backhand past Montoya at 8:20 to draw the Pens within two.
Malkin's goal, with Fleury off for an extra skater, came on a wrister from the high slot with 91 seconds left but Bailey's empty-netter sealed the win in the final moments.
The Penguins are at Buffalo on Friday...The Islanders opened a three-game homestand that continues against Boston on Saturday...Montoya was backed up by Kevin Poulin, who was recalled from the AHL on an emergency basis after Evgeni Nabokov went down with a lower-body injury against the Penguins on Tuesday. The Islanders also signed goaltender John Grahame, 36, who hasn't played an NHL game since the 2007-08 season with Carolina.
- PITTSBURGH: 3
NEW YORK: 5
Mar 29 9:25 PM
- NY Islanders Empty Net Goal - Josh Bailey, at 19:55.
Penguins 3, Islanders 5 3rd - 0:05Mar 29 9:24 PM
- Pittsburgh Goal - Evgeni Malkin (47), at 18:29.
Penguins 3, Islanders 4 3rd - 1:31Mar 29 9:21 PM
- Pittsburgh Goal - Jordan Staal (24), at 8:20.
Penguins 2, Islanders 4 3rd - 11:40Mar 29 9:06 PM
- NY Islanders Goal - Kyle Okposo (20), at 5:52.
Penguins 1, Islanders 4 3rd - 14:08Mar 29 9:00 PM
- PITTSBURGH: 1
NEW YORK: 3
End of 2nd
Mar 29 8:33 PM
- NY Islanders Short-Handed Goal - Josh Bailey (12), at 18:36.
Penguins 1, Islanders 3 2nd - 1:24Mar 29 8:31 PM
- NY Islanders Power-Play Goal - Nino Niederreiter (2), at 16:36.
Penguins 1, Islanders 2 2nd - 3:24Mar 29 8:27 PM
- Pittsburgh Short-Handed Goal - Pascal Dupuis (24), at 8:37.
Penguins 1, Islanders 1 2nd - 11:23Mar 29 8:12 PM
- PITTSBURGH: 0
NEW YORK: 1
End of 1st
Mar 29 7:37 PM
- NY Islanders Goal at 11:07.
Penguins 0, Islanders 1 1st - 8:53Mar 29 7:25 PM
- PITTSBURGH: 0
NEW YORK: 0
1st Period - 20:00
Mar 29 7:10 PM
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