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game recap

Penguins beat Islanders for 11th consecutive victory

Friday, 03.22.2013 / 11:02 PM

NHL.com

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Penguins beat Islanders for 11th consecutive victory
Pittsburgh Penguins 4, New York Islanders 2
Three Stars of the Game
Chris Kunitz
1st
G: 1Shots: 2
A: 0Hits: 2
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 0TOI: 18:43
Brandon Sutter
2nd
G: 1Shots: 3
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 17:55
Josh Bailey
3rd
G: 1Shots: 5
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 1PIM: 2
+/-: 2TOI: 16:35

The Pittsburgh Penguins are now 11-for-11 in March.

Brandon Sutter's goal early in the third period broke a tie, and Pittsburgh defeated the reeling New York Islanders 4-2 Friday night at Nassau Coliseum.

The Penguins' 11-game winning streak matches the longest in the NHL this season. The Chicago Blackhawks won 11 straight from Feb. 15 through March 6.

"We're just finding ways to win right now," Sutter said. "I think we want to keep playing the way we are. We don't really want to change much. Obviously we think we can still get better at certain things. I think if we keep that mindset, hopefully we can keep doing well."

Sutter slammed home a perfect cross-crease pass from Matt Cooke on a 2-on-1 break after the Islanders failed to clear their zone.

"I was just coming through with speed and their D went down," Sutter said of his ninth goal of the season. "[Cooke] just stepped around it and I'm just waiting for the shot. It went in. It was a great play by both wingers and great job by the D getting it up ice."

Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun made the lead stand up, with seven of his 33 saves in the third period, and Pascal Dupuis put the puck into the empty net a split-second before the final horn.

"We [bent] but didn't break," Vokoun said. "That's been the team here lately; we've been down a couple games and came back in the third."

Vokoun struggled in outings early in the winning streak and was bailed out by his offense. But Friday he was the reason the Penguins extended their streak on a night when they were outplayed for long stretches.

"Some nights, you help the team and some nights, the team is going to help you," he said. "For me, as a goalie, you're just trying to make every save. Obviously that's never going happen, but you're just trying to do the best you can to keep the team in the games."

The Penguins have outscored opponents in the third period by a League-high 20 goals; the Islanders have allowed a League-high 47 third-period goals and have an NHL-worst minus-17 scoring margin in third periods.

Joe Vitale and Chris Kunitz also scored for the Penguins, who lead the Eastern Conference with a 24-8-0 record and 48 points.

"We bounced back in the second and third periods," said captain Sidney Crosby, who finished with two assists. "Sometimes you've got to find ways to win, and tonight we had to find a way”

Mark Streit and Josh Bailey each had a goal for the Islanders, who lost for the third time in four days, all at home; they dropped to 13-15-3, including 5-11-2 at the Coliseum. New York has lost three of four against Pittsburgh this season.

Unlike the losses earlier in the week, Islanders coach Jack Capuano had no complaints with his team's effort.

"For me, that was one of the best hockey games we've played," he said. "Our guys deserved better.

"I thought we played well. Our guys were going. We had chances -- we just didn't put the puck in the net."

The Islanders, who are 0-5-0 in the second game of back-to-backs, came out flying against a team that had been off for two days. New York took the first nine shots of the game, then scored on the 10th. Frans Nielsen won an offensive-zone draw back to Matt Carkner, who slid a pass to Streit for a straightaway slapper from just inside the blue line. Streit's shot hit the stick of defender Tanner Glass and knuckled past Vokoun at 7:46 for his fifth of the season.

The Islanders kept the Penguins from getting a shot on Evgeni Nabokov until James Neal tested him from the left circle with 7:07 remaining in the first. Though Pittsburgh began to carry the play late in the period, the Islanders ended the first 20 minutes ahead 1-0 on the scoreboard and 14-3 on the shot clock. Vokoun kept his team from falling further behind.

"He's the reason we were able to win tonight," Crosby said.

Pittsburgh continued to have the better of the play early in the second period and took advantage of a bad New York change to tie the score at 8:11. A giveaway by Colin McDonald gave the Penguins a 2-on-1 break from the Islanders' blue line. Vitale raced in on left wing and snapped a shot from just to the right of the faceoff dot that beat Nabokov high to the far corner for his second of the season.

New York went back in front at 17:18 after a couple of hard-working shifts kept Pittsburgh penned in its zone. Vokoun stopped Travis Hamonic's shot from the right point, but John Tavares nudged the rebound to Bailey, who tucked it inside the left post for his fourth.

It appeared the Islanders would take a 2-1 lead into the dressing room, but Kunitz tied it with 14 seconds left when his wrister from the high slot went through the five-hole on Nabokov. Kunitz's 19th of the season was his fourth in four games against the Islanders.

The Islanders are trying to remain optimistic about their Stanley Cup Playoff chances -- they're three points out of eighth place, but because of their third-period problems, they're going backward instead of forward. New York has led or been tied in the third period of 25 of its 31 games, but has won 13 (13-9-3). The Islanders have been outscored 9-0 in this week's home losses to the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens and the Penguins.

"Our confidence isn't bad," Tavares said. "At times we're making some mistakes and they're costing us -- they're at the wrong time. We gave up a goal late in the second [period] again and a goal early in the third, and that makes it tough.

"We played last night, and as hard as we played and as good as we came out, those things are going to make it tough for us."

Material from team media was used in this report

scoring summary
1st Period
07:46
NYI
Mark Streit (5) ASST: Matt Carkner (1), Frans Nielsen (13)
1 - 0 NYI
2nd Period
08:11
PIT
Joe Vitale (2) ASST: Craig Adams (3), Simon Despres (5)
1 - 1 Tie
17:18
NYI
Josh Bailey (4) ASST: John Tavares (15), Travis Hamonic (7)
2 - 1 NYI
19:46
PIT
Chris Kunitz (19) ASST: Sidney Crosby (38), Pascal Dupuis (8)
2 - 2 Tie
3rd Period
01:46
PIT
Brandon Sutter (9) ASST: Matt Cooke (10), James Neal (13)
3 - 2 PIT
19:59
PIT
EN - Pascal Dupuis (15) ASST: Sidney Crosby (39), Tomas Vokoun (1)
4 - 2 PIT
penalty summary
1st Period
03:31
NYI
Matt Martin  Fighting against  Craig Adams
03:31
PIT
Craig Adams  Fighting against  Matt Martin
19:04
NYI
Matt Martin  Holding against  Craig Adams
2nd Period
NONE
3rd Period
12:27
PIT
Pascal Dupuis  Hooking against  Andrew MacDonald
14:08
NYI
Josh Bailey  Interference against  Mark Eaton
16:39
PIT
Brooks Orpik  Hooking against  John Tavares
goalie stats
Tomas Vokoun
SA: 35TOI: 59:37
Saves: 33EV: 33 - 35
PIM: 0PP: 0 - 0
SV%: .943SH: 0 - 0
Evgeni Nabokov
SA: 24TOI: 58:53
Saves: 21EV: 19 - 22
PIM: 0PP: 2 - 2
SV%: .875SH: 0 - 0