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Penguins bounce back with 3-1 win over Isles

by John Kreiser

A visit from the New York Islanders and a couple of fortunate bounces were just what the Pittsburgh Penguins needed to wash away the taste of Sunday's overtime loss in Washington.

Malkin took advantage of the favorable bounces to score a goal and set up one of Chris Kunitz's two goals and the Penguins bounced back from a bad weekend to beat the slumping Islanders 3-1 on Wednesday night.

Kunitz scored his first two goals since Dec. 29, helping the Penguins shake off Sunday's 5-4 loss Sunday in which they couldn't hold a 4-1 lead.

Though they outplayed the Penguins for long stretches, the Isles lost their seventh in a row at Mellon Arena and their eighth in nine games overall - they snapped a seven-game slide with a 4-3 shootout win over Nashville on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 37 of 38 shots - though it was defenseman Kris Letang who made the save of the night. With Fleury occupied at the other side of the net, Letang sprawled along the crease to stop Matt Moulson's shot in the first period. Right about then, the low-scoring Islanders probably knew what kind of night it would be.

"What I liked was a lot of pucks were hitting him (Fleury) in the chest and that means he was being aggressive. He didn't have to make a lot of spectacular saves," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

Unfortunately for the Islanders, they can't match the talent of a team on which Malkin, the reigning Art Ross Trophy winner, isn't even the best player.

"It's tough. When you have guys like (Sidney) Crosby and Malkin on the ice, those guys make things happen," Isles coach Scott Gordon said. "It's pretty consistent with every shift they have. That's where their team is at now, and that's where we aspire to be."

Malkin, one of five Penguins players headed to the Olympics, repeatedly showed off some fancy stickwork. Late in the first period, Malkin bounced the puck off the end of his stick as he tried to keep his balance while skating toward the net and managed to get off a shot, although it didn't go in.

He had better luck in the second period.

Malkin, who scored three goals during the Penguins' 6-4 win over the Islanders on Jan. 19, skated down the left wing boards near the midpoint of the period and threw the puck toward the middle of the ice 10 seconds after Pittsburgh killed off an Islanders' power play. Defenseman Mark Streit got his stick on it, but the puck deflected to Kunitz, who beat Dwayne Roloson to the short side from the left circle for his seventh goal. Kunitz played his second game after missing 15 games with an abdominal injury.

"It was a turning point in the game," Bylsma said.

Later in the period, Malkin won a faceoff in the Islanders' zone that led to a Sergei Gonchar shot that Malkin redirected past Roloson for his 21st goal.

The Islanders made it 2-1 at 9:38 of the third when Frans Nielsen put a backhander past Fleury off Bruno Gervais' backhand pass. It was the only shot to beat Fleury, who rebounded after giving up 13 goals in his previous three starts including a 5-3 loss Saturday at Montreal and the loss at Washington on Sunday.

"It's a shame because we had a lot of steam today and were playing well and generating a lot and it seems it's a wasted effort again," Islanders captain Doug Weight said.

Kunitz put the game away with 5:12 left when he beat Roloson on a breakaway after a perfect pass from former Isles captain Bill Guerin.

"It feels nice the puck going in the net for you," Kunitz said. "It feels good to get the win. It's nice to get the momentum going again."

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

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