PITTSBURGH (AP) -The Penguins' status in Pittsburgh might be clouded, but their future on the ice appears brighter every day.
Fueled by their young stars, the Penguins won their fourth in a row, 7-4 over the New York Islanders Friday night.
Ryan Malone had a hat trick and 19-year-old NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby had a goal and three assists for Pittsburgh. Crosby has 10 points in his last two games. He had a goal and five assists in an 8-4 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
"The offense is great, but the one good thing is we allowed hardly any chances up until the third period where we got a little lackadaisical," said Mark Recchi, who had one goal and three assists to give him 800 assists for his career. "The first two periods, we were sound defensively, and that's really important. We're working hard, competing hard, doing the right things, and we're being rewarded."
Hours before game time, it was announced that prospective owner Jim Balsillie had delivered a notice of termination regarding his intent to purchase the club. At least two banners were hung by fans supporting the Isle of Capri Casino Co., which has pledged to build a new arena for the team in Pittsburgh free of charge - if it is awarded the city's slot machine license. The state gaming control board is expected to announce its decision Wednesday.
Jason Blake, Tom Poti, Miroslav Satan and Mike York each had a goal and an assist for New York, which was playing for the first time in six days.
"We had been playing a lot of games in a short amount of time, so it's always good to have a couple days off," said Blake, who has a four-game point streak. "Five days off is a long time, but it's not an excuse we can use for tonight."
Crosby had a goal and five assists Wednesday. Jordan Staal and Maxime Talbot also scored for Pittsburgh.
It was the first career hat trick for the 27-year-old Malone, who was scoreless through his first 11 games this season until he had a goal and three assists against Philadelphia.
"I just keep shooting pucks on net, and sooner or later they'll go in," Malone said. "Obviously, it's not always going to be like this, but as long as we're getting chances, that's the important thing."
Malone was getting chances all night - thanks to Crosby. Malone's goals each came directly off passes from Crosby, with the first two looking very similar.
Malone opened the scoring 7:22 into the game. Recchi carried the puck into the zone and passed it to Crosby, who found Malone streaking down the left wing. Malone's wrist shot beat Rick DiPietro high to the glove side.
It was the seventh consecutive game in which Crosby had a point and fourth in a row he collected an assist.
Malone's other goals came in the third period, the first at 8:45 - also from Crosby and Recchi - and then the game's final goal at 15:34 on a pass from Crosby, who had carried the puck into the New York zone and held it for several seconds.
"Sid made great passes on all three plays," Malone said.
The Islanders tied the game 1-1 with a 4-on-3 goal by Satan, his ninth, with 7:36 left in the first.
Pittsburgh reclaimed the lead for good 11 seconds later when Crosby scored by throwing the puck toward the net and having it deflect in off two Islanders.
Recchi made it 3-1 with a power-play goal with 3:28 left in the first on a shot from the point that got through traffic in front of the net and past DiPietro, who appeared to be screened.
"That line (Crosby-Malone-Recchi) really clicks well," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said. "They feed from each other. I like the way they're protecting the puck, and the chemistry is there."
The Penguins outshot the Islanders 18-7 in the first period.
Staal made it 4-1 Penguins with his ninth goal during a 4-on-4 situation almost six minutes into the second. Dominic Moore won a faceoff in the left circle and Staal, playing right wing, picked up the loose puck and fired it past DiPietro.
The rout was on 27 seconds later when Talbot was credited with a short-handed goal.
New York scored three times within a span of 2:21 in the third period to make it interesting at 6-4, but Malone's third goal all but put the game away.
"You've got to forget about it," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. "There are lots of games. Whether we lost 15-1 or 3-2, we still lost."
Notes: Staal is fourth in the league among rookies with nine goals. ... The Penguins improved to 10-2-3 when scoring first, 9-1-3 when leading after the first period and 10-0-3 when leading after two periods. ... It was the fourth meeting between the two teams in 22 days.
|Ryan Malone (2) ASST: Sidney Crosby (33), Mark Recchi (17)|
1 - 0 PIT
|PPG - Miroslav Satan (9) ASST: Mike York (6), Sean Hill (10)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Sidney Crosby (16) ASST: Mark Recchi (18), Ryan Whitney (16)|
2 - 1 PIT
|PPG - Mark Recchi (9) ASST: Nisse Ekman (8), Evgeni Malkin (16)|
3 - 1 PIT
|Jordan Staal (9) ASST: Dominic Moore (6)|
4 - 1 PIT
|SHG - Maxime Talbot (5) ASST: Josef Melichar (5), Colby Armstrong (10)|
5 - 1 PIT
|Ryan Malone (3) ASST: Sidney Crosby (34), Mark Recchi (19)|
6 - 1 PIT
|PPG - Tom Poti (3) ASST: Jason Blake (16), Bruno Gervais (3)|
6 - 2 PIT
|PPG - Jason Blake (16) ASST: Tom Poti (12), Bruno Gervais (4)|
6 - 3 PIT
|Mike York (6) ASST: Miroslav Satan (12), Brendan Witt (9)|
6 - 4 PIT
|Ryan Malone (4) ASST: Sidney Crosby (35), Rob Scuderi (6)|
7 - 4 PIT
|Alexei Zhitnik Interference against Colby Armstrong|
|Jason Blake Roughing against Sidney Crosby|
|Sidney Crosby Roughing against Jason Blake|
|Nisse Ekman Hooking against Andy Hilbert|
|Chris Thorburn Fighting (maj) against Chris Simon|
|Chris Simon Fighting (maj) against Chris Thorburn|
|Radek Martinek Cross checking against Ryan Malone|
|Alexei Zhitnik Hooking|
|Mike Sillinger Tripping against Nisse Ekman|
|Brendan Witt Hooking against Jarkko Ruutu|
|Ryan Malone Holding the stick against Sean Hill|
|Tom Poti Hooking against Dominic Moore|
|Mike Sillinger Tripping against Brooks Orpik|
|Jarkko Ruutu Too many men/ice - bench|
|Alexei Zhitnik Holding against Sidney Crosby|
|Colby Armstrong Holding against Shawn Bates|
|Chris Thorburn Hooking against Alexei Zhitnik|
|Maxime Talbot Holding the stick against Eric Boguniecki|
|Eric Boguniecki Hooking against Maxime Talbot|
|Colby Armstrong Diving against Jason Blake|
|Arron Asham Hooking against Jordan Staal|
|Alexei Zhitnik Hooking against Nisse Ekman|