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game recap

Penguins shut out Islanders, clinch playoff berth

Pittsburgh qualifes for 10th straight postseason

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Matt Murray picked a pretty good time for his first NHL shutout.

Murray made 24 saves in a 5-0 win against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Saturday to help the Penguins clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 10th straight season.

Video: PIT@NYI: Murray turns away Tavares on the power play

"It's a good feeling for sure," Murray said. "It's a milestone and something you think about. I think in the grand scheme of things, the win is more important than the shutout. It's just really nice to get a win."

Murray, a 21-year-old rookie, is 6-2-1 with a 1.86 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage and has won his past four starts with the Penguins. He is 20-9-1 with a 2.10 goals-against average with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League this season.

"I'm just trying to take it one day at a time, but that is the progression of this League," he said. "You have to try and develop in the minors and eventually prove yourself and try and make it to this level so that is what I am trying to do."

Video: PIT@NYI: Murray denies Leddy's slap shot

Murray may see increased playing time; the Penguins announced before the game that Marc-Andre Fleury has been diagnosed with his second concussion of the season and there is no timetable for his return.

"That's what you want as a goalie," Murray said. "You want to be the go-to guy. Personally, I really don't like sitting on the bench, especially for long periods of time kind of like I have been lately. This is a great opportunity for me and I am very excited about it."

Pittsburgh (45-25-8) has won five straight and 11 of its past 12 games. The Penguins moved three points ahead of the New York Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Since losing his first four games after being named coach Dec. 12, Mike Sullivan is 30-11-5.

"I'm glad we solidified a playoff spot," Sullivan said. "It's hard to make the playoffs in this League. There are a lot of good teams. There is so much parity. That three-point system makes it really tough because it keeps everyone close. I'm happy for everyone involved here. ... We hit our first goal of making the playoffs and solidifying a spot. By no means are we satisfied."

Video: PIT@NYI: Crosby notches 600th career assist on PPG

The Penguins were 15-14-3 on Dec. 19.

"There's always time's when you think it's going to be an uphill climb, but I don't think anyone expected to put as many together as we have here down the stretch but we worked hard and we've earned it," captain Sidney Crosby said.

The Islanders (42-26-9) fell to 9-2-1 in past 12 games at Barclays Center. They lead the Philadelphia Flyers, who defeated the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, by two points for the first wild card in the Eastern Conference.

"There's just no excuses for that effort," Islanders captain John Tavares said. "It's embarrassing, starting with myself. You have to look yourself in the mirror and ask how bad do you want [to make the playoffs]. It was a big game at an important time of the year and to play the way we did is unacceptable.

"We just came off of a decent stretch were we won four of five and had our backs up against the wall. It's another test on Monday [against the Tampa Bay Lightning], then into the last week. So it's up to us how bad we want it and where we want to get to. I believe in this group so it's just disappointing the way we played today."

New York was 0-for-5 on the power play, allowing a shorthanded goal, and killed one of three Penguins power plays.

"You're not going to win many games when you give up two power-play goals and a shorthanded goal," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.

Video: PIT@NYI: Sundqvist beats Berube for first NHL goal

Oskar Sundqvist's shorthanded goal at 12:41 gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead. Islanders goalie Jean-Francois Berube tried to pass to defenseman Nick Leddy, who didn't see it and Sundqvist picked it off in the slot and converted for his first NHL goal.

Pittsburgh scored twice in the second period. The Penguins took a 2-0 lead at 8:09 when Patric Hornqvist got his 20th of the season on a one-timer from Crosby, who got his 600th NHL assist.

Matt Cullen scored to give Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead. Calvin de Haan's clearing attempt hit Penguins forward Eric Fehr and went to Tom Kuhnhackl. Cullen took a pass from Kuhnhackl and roofed it over Berube at 15:30.

Phil Kessel scored on the power play in the third period to give Pittsburgh a 4-0 lead. It was his fifth goal in five games.

Kuhnhackl concluded the scoring at 15:01.

Video: PIT@NYI: Kuhnhackl chips it past Berube

"This is huge. If we play against them in the playoffs, we know we can play against them in their building," Hornqvist said. "If we play the right way, we can be hard to beat."

Berube made 28 saves.

New York was without defenseman Travis Hamonic, who will miss the rest of the regular season with a lower-body injury. Marek Zidlicky replaced him in the lineup.

Video: Murray, Penguins blank Islanders, 5-0

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