PITTSBURGH (AP) - Six, seven, eight shooters got the puck for the New York Islanders in the NHL's longest shootout so far, and still Jason Blake didn't get the call. When it comes to skating 1-on-1, he is the Islanders' last choice right now.
Blake, New York's ninth and final shooter of the extended shootout, nearly lost the puck when he finally got his chance but recovered to steer a shot past Jocelyn Thibault and give the Islanders a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night.
As Blake came down the slot, the puck fell off his stick momentarily, but he got it back and beat Thibault by faking a backhander only to slide the puck inside the near post.
``The last two games, the problem was I missed four breakaways, so there was a little concern there with my confidence,'' Blake said. ``I mishandled the puck at the hash mark, but I got lucky and he tried to pokecheck me and he missed it. I got lucky - that's all I can say.''
Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro stopped the Penguins' final six shooters, including Mark Recchi, Ziggy Palffy and John LeClair, to give New York its second shootout victory in two attempts. The Penguins lost the second of their three shootouts, even though rookies Erik Christensen and Sidney Crosby kept the shootout going by scoring after getting Pittsburgh's only goals in regulation.
Long before that, Alexei Yashin got his 300th career goal and Shawn Bates got his third goal in two games as the Islanders started a four-game road trip with a victory. Yashin failed to score as the first Islanders shooter in the shootout, then waited - and waited - for the conclusion.
``I can wait forever as long as we win. It's a great win, hopefully we'll get some confidence and it will carry over from here,'' Yashin said.
The supposedly improved Penguins (5-8-6), who trailed 2-0 after two periods, slipped deeper into last place in the Atlantic Division despite getting a point and now have more overtime losses (6) than victories (5).
For two periods, the Penguins looked as lifeless and disinterested as they did in a 6-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday night, getting outshot 25-12 while repeatedly giving little defensive help to Thibault.
But the Penguins finally showed some life after Crosby scored his seventh goal, one-timing Christensen's pass to the slot past DiPietro after Christensen intercepted Brent Sopel's pass from behind his own net.
``We don't play good hockey until we get behind for whatever reason,'' Mark Recchi said. ``If we'd played like that early in games, we wouldn't get into trouble.''
The Penguins pressed the play after that, getting far more good scoring chances in the third period than they did in the first two periods combined. Christensen tied it at 18:42 with his second career goal by taking Ric Jackman's soft pass in the right circle and beating DiPietro with a hard wrist shot.
``I thought we played a great first two periods and not so well in the third and they took it to us, but our goaltender played great all night,'' Bates said of DiPietro, who made 26 saves.
The Penguins didn't help themselves by going 0-for-4 on the power play. They are 2-for-35 with the man advantage in their last six games. Since scoring a team record six power play goals Oct. 27 against Atlanta, the Penguins are 6-of-55 on the power play.
Yashin, moved back to center on Saturday after a brief trial at left wing, got the game's first goal with a bad-angle shot from along the goal line midway though the second. The Islanders kept the puck in the Pittsburgh end for nearly 90 seconds - even changing lines while keeping the puck - before Yashin beat Thibault inside the far post.
Bates made it 2-0, escaping defenseman Brooks Orpik with an excellent move in the right circle to skate to the slot and switch from his backhand to his forehand to easily beat Thibault.
In the initial group of three shooters that begins a shootout, Trent Hunter and Bates scored for the Islanders. After Bates scored, Christensen - playing only his eighth career game - needed to score to keep the shootout going.
Notes: Previously, the Blue Jackets' 2-1 win over the Wild on Oct. 28 that went to five rounds was the longest shootout. ... The Islanders have won three of four and are 52-0 with eight ties in the last 60 games they've led after two periods. ... Yashin has nine goals and Bates has six. ... Penguins D Sergei Gonchar sat out with a strained groin and is listed as day-to-day. ... New York has won consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 19-20 against the Rangers. They beat the Boston Bruins 5-2 Saturday. ... Pittsburgh has scored the first goal only four times in 19 games. ... Mario Lemieux hasn't scored on any of his three shootout attempts. ... Two of the three games on Pittsburgh's homestand went to a shootout. They beat Montreal 3-2 Thursday on Crosby's goal.
|Alexei Yashin (9) ASST: Brad Lukowich (5), Janne Niinimaa (3)|
1 - 0 NYI
|Shawn Bates (6) ASST: Arron Asham (8), Brent Sopel (8)|
2 - 0 NYI
|Sidney Crosby (7) ASST: Erik Christensen (1)|
2 - 1 NYI
|Erik Christensen (2) ASST: Richard Jackman (11)|
2 - 2 Tie
|1||A. Yashin||S. Crosby||0 - 1|
|2||T. Hunter||M. Lemieux||1 - 1|
|3||S. Bates||E. Christensen||2 - 2|
|4||M. Satan||M. Recchi||2 - 2|
|5||M. Parrish||Z. Palffy||2 - 2|
|6||R. Nilsson||K. Koltsov||2 - 2|
|7||M. York||L. Pirjeta||2 - 2|
|8||A. Asham||J. Leclair||2 - 2|
|9||J. Blake||R. Whitney||3 - 2|
|Shawn Bates Hooking against Sidney Crosby|
|Brooks Orpik Interference against Mark Parrish|
|Arron Asham Hooking against Maxime Talbot|
|Lasse Pirjeta Holding against Mike York|
|Janne Niinimaa Holding against Sidney Crosby|
|Ryan Whitney Hooking against Jason Blake|
|John Leclair Tripping against Robert Nilsson|
|Alexei Zhitnik Hooking against Sidney Crosby|