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game recap

Letang, Fleury help Penguins past Islanders

Defenseman has lone goal in shootout; goalie makes 25 saves

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

Letang nets slick move in SO

NYI@PIT: Letang beats Berube with fine move in SO

3/15/16: Kris Letang makes a beautiful move to his backhand and roofs it past Jean-Francois Berube in the shootout

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PITTSBURGH -- In a game that had the intensity of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins took a step toward solidifying their playoff fate Tuesday.

Kris Letang scored the only goal in the shootout to help the Penguins defeat the New York Islanders 2-1 at Consol Energy Center.

Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who had 25 saves, earned his 30th win of the season by stopping Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo and John Tavares in the shootout. Islanders goalie Jean-Francois Berube stopped Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel but couldn't stop Letang on a backhanded shot in the second round.

"It's big [to get two points], especially against that team," Letang said. "I think we could've scored a lot more goals in that game. They pack it in pretty well in front of their net. … But I think for the most part of that game, we controlled the game."

Video: NYI@PIT: Fleury gloves de Haan's wrister

Pittsburgh (37-24-8) pulled within three points of New York (38-21-9) for third place in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders have one game in hand.

A week after losing to the Islanders 2-1 by surrendering the game-deciding goal 8:55 into the third period, the Penguins avoided a second letdown by playing playoff-style hockey, Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said.

"It was a tight-checking game, I thought," Sullivan said. "There wasn't a lot of ice out there. It was hard to get pucks to the net. I thought for the first two periods especially, we had a lot of zonetime. I thought we could've got more pucks to the net, but they're a good shot-blocking team. They defend hard. From that standpoint, I think it had a playoff feel to it."

Berube made 33 saves, including seven in overtime, in his third NHL start.

Video: NYI@PIT: Fleury denies Nielsen's shot in the 2nd

"They were buzzing [in overtime]. They were coming hard," Berube said. "They were putting a lot of pressure on us. We all know in overtime, as soon as you have puck possession, you're a threat. But I think we kept them outside and not too many shots were from the middle, so it made my job a little easier."

New York came from behind in the third period for a second consecutive night, after scoring three third-period goals to win 3-2 against the Florida Panthers on Monday. Islanders coach Jack Capuano was more impressed with the performance Tuesday and thought New York protected Berube well.

"I thought he was great," Capuano said. "I thought for three periods, we were really good. We helped him out. Obviously in overtime, we had a couple turnovers and a bad change, and they got seven shots in overtime. Overall, this was a good team effort from our guys on back-to-back nights, a lot of travel and coming into a building that's always tough to play in."

With Penguins forward Nick Bonino in the penalty box for slashing Nielsen and the Islanders trailing 1-0, Fleury scrambled in his crease with a puck loose. Islanders forward Anders Lee was battling with defenseman Olli Maatta, but Okposo managed to corral the puck and shot over a diving Fleury with 5:25 remaining in the third to tie the game 1-1

Video: NYI@PIT: Fleury denies Boychuk's one-timer

"We got scored on at the end. No one panicked or did anything stupid," Fleury said. "We had a great overtime. We had a lot of good chances. It's just too bad we only gained a point on them."

In his 800th NHL game, forward Chris Kunitz gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead late in the first period. After Crosby set Brian Dumoulin up for a slap shot at the point, Kunitz held off Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan and deflected the shot past Berube's glove with 4:09 remaining.

Kunitz has 645 points and 237 goals during his 14 NHL season with the Penguins, Anaheim Ducks and Atlanta Thrashers.

Crosby's secondary assist on the goal extended his scoring streak to nine games (four goals, 10 assists).

Video: NYI@PIT: Fleury denies Tavares as OT expires

The Penguins led 11-8 in second-period shots, but few had a quality chance of getting through either goaltender, with the exception of one Crosby wrist shot early in the period.

Crosby carried the puck down the near wall into the offensive zone before shooting from the left circle toward the upper-right corner of the Islanders net. Berube quickly flashed his glove to rob Crosby of his 30th goal of the season.

The Penguins have started a stretch of nine consecutive games against Metropolitan Division opponents 4-1-0.

"We had quite a few long, extended shifts. We got them fairly tired," Kunitz said. "We started turning pucks over and not capitalizing on them playing on a back-to-back … We're definitely fortunate we came away with a win and got those two points."

Video: Penguins top Islanders, 2-1, in shootout

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