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38 SOG
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game recap

Penguins top Isles 4-3 in shootout

Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:05 AM

NHL.com

Pittsburgh Penguins know they'll get to start the playoffs at home -- and they may still get to do it as Atlantic Division champions.

Chris Kunitz scored the only goal in the shootout Friday night as the Penguins beat the New York Islanders 4-3, assuring themselves of no worse than fourth place in the East.

The Penguins wasted leads of 2-0 and 3-2, allowing the Islanders to tie the game on Travis Hamonic's sixth-attacker goal with 35 seconds left. But following a scoreless overtime, Kunitz salvaged the win by scoring against Al Montoya in the third round after Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all three New York shooters. That assured the Penguins of finishing no worse than fourth -- with the home-ice advantage against Tampa Bay in the first round.

"I like home ice in the playoffs," an understated Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "There are things about the game I didn't like, but our team found a way to win. It's a big win."

The Penguins also pulled even with the Philadelphia in the race for first place in the Atlantic Division. Both teams have 104 points with one game remaining -- the Flyers own the tiebreaker and can clinch by beating the Islanders at home on Saturday night. Pittsburgh ends its regular season Sunday in Atlanta.

Mark Letestu had snapped a 2-2 tie with 7:39 left, and Mike Rupp added a goal and assist for the Penguins, who went 4-1-1 against the Islanders and avenged a penalty-filled 9-3 beating in their last trip to the Nassau Coliseum. Two of the four wins came after regulation.

"They play us hard," Bylsma said. "They've been able to do some things against us and we've had to fight tooth and nail to get every point we got from them."

Letestu took a backhanded pass in front from Rupp and scored past Montoya a little over 4 minutes after Blake Comeau got the Islanders even at 2-2 with his second goal of the night.

The Penguins are in a good position heading into the playoffs despite being without star forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for large parts of the season. Pittsburgh also lost forward James Neal on Friday -- Bylsma said he's day to day.

Zbynek Michalek also scored, and Fleury played well in the rematch of the Feb. 11 game.

With NHL Vice President Colin Campbell in attendance this time, the Penguins and Islanders squared off for their first fight of the night sooner than in the previous meeting. Pittsburgh's Eric Godard dropped the gloves with Trevor Gillies on the faceoff following Rupp's goal that made it 1-0 at 8:57. Both players received fighting majors and misconduct penalties.

"The refs were obviously setting a tone and made sure it wasn't out of hand like last time," Godard said. "I know what they were trying to do. They were just letting the guys know that they have the game under control."

Arron Asham of the Penguins and Islanders counterpart Zenon Konopka dropped the gloves in front of the penalty box at 11:57, with Konopka picking up an extra two minutes and a misconduct for instigating the fight. But after that, the teams stuck to hockey.

"Sometimes the buildup and the anticipation is far greater than what really happens on the ice," Bylsma said. "The refs did a pretty good job of letting everyone know how the game was going to be called right off the hop. It was pretty much just a hard-fought hockey game."

Added Isles coach Jack Capuano: "It was a good, clean hockey game. I think fans got their money's worth. Both goaltenders stole the show, but in the skills competition they got the goal."

Comeau had an easy time in tying the game after speedy Michael Grabner raced with puck behind the net and found Comeau alone in front, for a patient shot into an empty net at 8:14 of the third. The power-play goal was the second allowed by the Penguins in 26 shorthanded opportunities over eight games.

Comeau had cut New York's deficit to 2-1 with 4:42 left in the second when he put in a rebound of Moulson's shot.

"Moulson was where he had to be, in front," Comeau said. "He got the rebound and tried to put it in. I got the rebound and put it in.

"The second goal was great speed by Grabner. I tried to find the open hole in the slot and he ended up finding me."

Rupp put the Penguins in front with his eighth of the season. After Pittsburgh had a couple of whacks in front at a loose puck, it bounced outside the crease to Rupp, who scored with a backhander.

Michalek made it 2-0 at 11:11 off a crisp feed from Kris Letang during a power play. Letang faked a shot from the center of the blue line and slid a pass to his left to Michalek, who wound up and fired a one-time from the left point that beat Montoya. It was the defenseman's second goal and third point in three games.

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report

scoring summary
1st Period
08:57
PIT
Mike Rupp (8) Backhand shot - ASST: Eric Godard (2), Craig Adams (11)
1 - 0 PIT
2nd Period
11:11
PIT
PPG - Zbynek Michalek (5) Slapshot - ASST: Kris Letang (42), Tyler Kennedy (24)
2 - 0 PIT
15:18
NYI
Blake Comeau (23) Tip-in - ASST: Matt Moulson (21), Jesse Joensuu (3)
2 - 1 PIT
3rd Period
08:14
NYI
PPG - Blake Comeau (24) Wrist shot - ASST: Michael Grabner (18), Travis Hamonic (21)
2 - 2 Tie
12:21
PIT
Mark Letestu (13) Snap shot - ASST: Mike Rupp (8), Arron Asham (6)
3 - 2 PIT
19:25
NYI
Travis Hamonic (4) Slapshot - ASST: Kyle Okposo (14)
3 - 3 Tie
OT Period
NONE
Shootout
RNDNYIPITTOTAL
1P. Parenteau
K. Letang
0 - 0
2J. Tavares
A. Kovalev
0 - 0
3B. Comeau
C. Kunitz
0 - 1
penalty summary
1st Period
02:30
PIT
Jordan Staal  Roughing against  Radek Martinek
05:24
NYI
Zenon Konopka  Tripping against  Mark Letestu
08:59
PIT
Eric Godard  Misconduct (10 min) against  Trevor Gillies
08:59
NYI
Trevor Gillies  Misconduct (10 min) against  Eric Godard
08:59
PIT
Eric Godard  Fighting (maj) against  Trevor Gillies
08:59
NYI
Trevor Gillies  Fighting (maj) against  Eric Godard
09:11
NYI
Micheal Haley  Clipping against  Ben Lovejoy
11:57
NYI
Zenon Konopka  Fighting (maj) against  Arron Asham
11:57
PIT
Arron Asham  Fighting (maj) against  Zenon Konopka
11:57
NYI
Zenon Konopka  Instigator against  Arron Asham
11:57
NYI
Zenon Konopka  Misconduct (10 min) against  Arron Asham
14:49
PIT
Brooks Orpik  Unsportsmanlike conduct against  John Tavares
14:49
PIT
Brooks Orpik  Cross checking against  John Tavares
2nd Period
00:23
NYI
Blake Comeau  Tripping against  Kris Letang
09:28
NYI
Radek Martinek  Hooking against  Maxime Talbot
16:58
PIT
Arron Asham  Too many men/ice - bench
3rd Period
06:38
PIT
Paul Martin  Hi-sticking against  John Tavares
15:24
PIT
Mike Rupp  Hi-sticking against  PA Parenteau
15:27
NYI
PA Parenteau  Hi-sticking against  Zbynek Michalek
17:14
PIT
Maxime Talbot  Holding against  Radek Martinek
OT Period
05:00
PIT
Zbynek Michalek  Holding the stick
goalie stats
Marc-Andre Fleury
SA: 38TOI: 65:00
Saves: 35EV: 24 - 26
PIM: 0PP: 11 - 12
SV%: .921SH: 0 - 0
Al Montoya
SA: 38TOI: 63:44
Saves: 35EV: 27 - 29
PIM: 0PP: 7 - 8
SV%: .921SH: 1 - 1