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Bylsma's first game as Pens coach ends in shootout loss to Isled

NHL.com @NHL

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Dan Bylsma's first game behind the Pittsburgh Penguins bench ended like so many under former coach Michel Therrien, with a loss.

Frans Nielsen and Jeff Tambellini scored shootout goals, and Joey MacDonald turned aside Penguins stars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby in the tiebreaker to lift the lowly New York Islanders to a 3-2 victory Monday.

Bylsma got the call that he would replace Therrien on Sunday, just before he was set to coach his Wilkes Barre-Scranton club in an AHL game.

The decision to dismiss Therrien, who led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup finals last year, was made by general manager Ray Shero after Pittsburgh blew a 2-0 lead at Toronto and gave up five goals in the third period of a 6-2 loss Saturday.

Malkin and Ryan Whitney forged a pair of ties, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves through overtime for the Penguins, but it wasn't enough as Pittsburgh fell to 1-7-2 on the road in 2009. Pittsburgh (27-25-6) is 10th in the Eastern Conference, two places and four points below the playoff cutoff.

Chris Campoli and Nielsen replied for New York, which owns the NHL's worst record (17-33-6). MacDonald stopped 35 shots before the tiebreaker.

Bylsma paced behind the Penguins bench, keeping his arms folded for most of the game, and taking occasional drinks from a water bottle. He leaned over several times to talk to his new players. Only two Penguins in Monday's lineup played under Bylsma this season in the AHL.

The Penguins didn't immediately display the fast, offensive attack style that Bylsma is expected to deploy, but Pittsburgh erased a pair of one-goal deficits on only 20 shots through two periods and had chances to win in overtime.

A pretty passing play produced Whitney's second goal of the season and tied it 2-2 with 2:53 left in the middle frame.

Sergei Gonchar, playing just his second game of the season, gave a lift to the Pittsburgh power play with his first point. Gonchar moved the puck from the blue-line to Crosby in the right circle, and the Penguins captain sent a backhander back toward the left circle to Whitney, who fired a rising one-timer past the sprawling MacDonald.

The Islanders had taken their second lead less than four minutes earlier. Nielsen crashed the net and pushed the puck past Fleury with his second backhanded swipe after Andy Hilbert's original shot trickled behind the goalie.

Nielsen's third goal snapped his 19-game drought at 13:26.

New York, which had 19 shots through 40 minutes, went on its first power play early in the third period after Malkin was given four minutes for roughing following a scrum in front of MacDonald with 10 seconds left in the second.

Malkin, the NHL scoring leader with 82 points, threw a few jabs at Campoli - who drew only one penalty for roughing - and was dragged down from behind by Hilbert.

Campoli staked the Islanders to a 1-0 lead with 8:26 left in the first period, after Sean Bergenheim's pass hit Penguins defenceman Kris Letang in the leg and caromed in off the right skate of Campoli. The goal stood up after a video review because Campoli didn't kick the puck.

Malkin scored his 25th goal by stripping the puck from Campoli along the left-wing boards, racing into the Islanders end on a 2-on-1 with Petr Sykora, blowing by defenceman Jack Hillen, and beating MacDonald with 1:53 left in the first.

Notes: Bylsma, who played from 1995-2004 as an NHL forward, was 35-16-1-2 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in his first season as an AHL coach. ... Whitney hadn't scored in 12 games, dating to a game against Washington on Jan. 14. ... Campoli's goal was his first in 11 games, going back 10 games vs. the New York Rangers on Jan. 13. ... Crosby, third in the NHL with 73 points, said he felt better following a recent bout with the flu. ... The president mascots, featured in races at Washington Nationals baseball games, made a holiday visit to Long Island. George Washington bested his Mount Rushmore brethren in a fight-filled, two-lap skating sprint around the rink.

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