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Penguins top Isles 3-2 for first win in new home

by John Kreiser
It took four tries, but the Pittsburgh Penguins finally own a win in their new arena.

Alex Goligoski's power-play goal 1:51 into overtime gave the Penguins a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders for their first victory in the new Consol Energy Center.

With Milan Jurcina off for hooking, Evgeni Malkin took a slap shot from the high slot that goaltender Rick DiPietro stopped. The rebound came to Goligoski in the lower left circle, and his shot hit the arm of Isles center Frans Nielsen and deflected into the net.

"I was sick of answering questions about the first win here, so that will be a relief," Goligoski said. "It's nice. It's just relief to finally win one."

The Penguins, now 2-3-0, had lost their first three games in their new home, all by one goal. They had been 0-for-7 on the power play before Goligoski's goal.

"We were pressing a bit during the game," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said of the power play, "but timing is everything sometimes. And we got it when we needed it."

DiPietro, still trying to shake off the rust after missing most of the last three seasons with injuries, stopped 26 shots in the best of his three performances so far this season.

"I thought we battled hard," DiPietro said. "It was a good point, but we definitely wanted two."

Brent Johnson won for the second time in as many starts for Pittsburgh, making 22 saves as the Islanders fell to 1-1-2  this season. They have lost their last nine games in Pittsburgh, where they are 2-14-3 since 1994.

"It's been a long time since we've got a point in this building, which is certainly a huge plus for us - especially when you're down 2-0 and not having anything going," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said.

Neither team showed much creativity in a scoreless first period that saw the Penguins outshoot the Islanders 8-3. But the Penguins used a couple of fortunate bounces early in the second to grab a 2-0 lead.

Michael Rupp got the Penguins on the board at 4:07, backhanding home the rebound of Paul Martin's point shot after Martin picked off a pass by Isles defenseman Mike Mottau. Rookie Eric Tangradi got his first NHL goal at 6:57 when his shot caromed off the right skate of Jurcina and past a helpless DiPietro.

But the Islanders, who lost their last eight visits to Mellon Arena, regrouped thanks to a major penalty called on defenseman Kris Letang, who leveled the Isles' Blake Comeau in the high slot. He received a major and a game misconduct for an illegal check to the head, and the Islanders wound up with a three-minute power play. The Penguins, already without injured regulars Zbynek Michalek and Brooks Orpik, wound up playing the rest of the night with five defensemen.

"The referee made a decision about protecting a player; he has to make it in a split second," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said, relaying the explanation he was given from the officials during the ensuing intermission.

The Isles capitalized at 11:18 when Josh Bailey, perhaps their best player in the first week of the season, took a feed from Comeau all alone in front, went backhand-forehand and tucked the puck behind Johnson.

New York got even at 13:06 when defenseman Radek Martinek sneaked down from the left point, picked a deflected passout and snapped a 15-footer past Johnson's glove.

Comeau, who also assisted on Martinek's goal, was unavailable after the game; Gordon said he was undergoing testing.

"Everyone is going to look at (the hit)," Letang said. "It's a play that I need to step up, otherwise he's going to be by himself in the slot with a great scoring chance, so I am stepping up for the puck and hit him on the shoulder."

Both teams had two power-play chances in the first half of the third period -- the Isles got both of theirs when Matt Cooke was called for separate instances of goaltender interference, the second just after he returned to the ice from serving the first.

The Islanders also had a power play late in regulation when Derek Engelland was called for interference with 2:17 remaining, but were unable to beat Johnson.
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