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game recap

Islanders tied for wild card after defeating Penguins

Pittsburgh picks up point in Metropolitan Division race

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- The New York Islanders are tied for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in a shootout at PPG Paints Arena on Friday.

Jaroslav Halak, playing his first NHL game since Dec. 29, made 37 saves and two in the shootout for the Islanders (35-26-12), who are tied with the Boston Bruins and one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning with one game in hand on each. New York hosts Boston on Saturday.

Halak was recalled from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League on Thursday.

 

WATCH: All Islanders vs. Penguins highlights

 

"Obviously I'm happy with the win," Halak said. "It's great to be back with the guys who are here, and it's a big win, a big two points. I think it was a good game from our side. We stayed disciplined.

"Anytime you win a game, it's always great. I think it's more special right now after being called up and playing my first game right now in this late stage in the season. I'm happy that I'm back."

The Penguins (46-17-11) moved one point behind the Washington Capitals and two points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals and Blue Jackets each have one game in hand on the Penguins. 

Anthony Beauvillier and John Tavares scored in the shootout for the Islanders. Halak allowed Sidney Crosby to score in the second round, but stopped Phil Kessel in the first and Nick Bonino in the third. 

Video: NYI@PIT: Tavares buries winner past Fleury in SO

Pittsburgh lost 2-1 in a shootout to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

"I thought we fought hard," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "This was a tough game. The Islanders are a good team. They were playing really well. It was a challenging back-to-back. We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game and that's exactly what it was."

The Penguins had a shot on goal reviewed with 1:59 left in overtime but it was ruled Halak successfully kept the puck from crossing the goal line. 

Pittsburgh forward Matt Cullen tied it 3-3 with 6:10 remaining in the third period. 

Video: NYI@PIT: Cullen roofs Gaune's rebound at doorstep

Cameron Gaunce gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 1:54 of the second period. It was his second goal in 28 NHL games; he last scored on Feb. 16, 2011.

Brock Nelson tied it 1-1 at 4:48, and Anders Lee put New York ahead 2-1 at 9:18. 

Crosby tied it 2-2 with his NHL-leading 42nd goal at 13:41 before Casey Cizikas gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead with five seconds left. 

Marc-Andre Fleury made 43 saves for Pittsburgh.

 

Goal of the game

Gaunce carried the puck into the Islanders crease and shot off Halak's pads. The rebound slid to Cullen, who scored his 11th goal of the season.

Video: NYI@PIT: Gaunce blasts one through screen past Halak

 

Save of the game

Halak kept the Penguins from winning in overtime with his reviewed save after Bryan Rust charged to the net and Cullen shot into the crease. Halak smothered the puck while spinning on the goal line to keep it from crossing.

Video: NYI@PIT: Halak turns aside Rust's wrister on break

 

Highlight of the game

Tavares stripped Chad Ruhwedel of the puck in the Penguins zone before passing through Ian Cole to Cizikas drifting toward the crease. Cizikas tapped a shot past Fleury for his eighth goal of the season.

Video: NYI@PIT: Cizikas tucks home a nice dish from Tavares

 

Unsung performance of the game

Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan played 22:54, blocked four shots and had three hits.

 

They said it

"He looked like Halak. … He got some things straightened out. He looked confident. He looked aggressive. I think the guys fed off it. … I'm proud of him." -- Islanders coach Doug Weight

 

"The season's not done yet. We have a lot of work to do, but I think we feel good in here right now with where our game's at. It's what we have to do every single night on a daily basis." -- Islanders forward Casey Cizikas

 

"Always frustrating to lose in the shootout. We get a point out of this, but I don't know. I like to win in the shootout." -- Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury

 

Need to know

Islanders forward Nikolay Kulemin played 4:42 before leaving with an undisclosed injury that isn't expected to be long-term. "I think it's relatively good news," Weight said. "That to me makes me cringe. … I'm hoping he can play tomorrow, but if not, I hope it's not too long. He's a real part of our engine." … The Islanders are 18-9-4 since Weight was promoted to coach on Jan. 17. … Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin (upper body) missed a fifth consecutive game. Sullivan said Malkin has continued to rehab and is making progress. … Pittsburgh forward Scott Wilson (lower body) did not play. … Tavares had two assists to reach 301 in his NHL career. ... Halak was waived by New York before being assigned to Bridgeport. It was his first NHL win since Dec. 27.

 

What's next

Islanders: Host the Boston Bruins on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, NESN, NHL.TV)

Penguins: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV)

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