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game recap

Penguins fall to Islanders, lose ground in Metropolitan

Murray makes 36 saves in first start since Feb. 23; Barzal has goal, assist for New York

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

NEW YORK -- The Pittsburgh Penguins lost ground for first place in the Metropolitan Division with a 4-1 loss against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Tuesday.

Matt Murray made 36 saves for Pittsburgh in his first start since Feb. 23; he missed the previous nine games because of a concussion.

"I felt pretty good," Murray said. "I thought as a team, we could have been a little better more consistently, myself included, but we had our moments. We had a good second period, but they just outplayed us I think overall just a little bit."  

Conor Sheary scored for the Penguins (41-27-5), who hold the tiebreaker on the Columbus Blue Jackets for second place in the Metropolitan with one game in hand and four more regulation/overtime wins. Pittsburgh is four points behind the Washington Capitals.

 

[WATCH: All Penguins vs. Islanders highlights]

 

Mathew Barzal had a goal and an assist, and John Tavares had two assists for the Islanders (31-32-10), who are 10 points behind the New Jersey Devils for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Christopher Gibson made 36 saves.

"It's not where we want to be; we're all disappointed in it," Islanders coach Doug Weight said. "But we get paid to play every game, and they played today like they wanted to win, they wanted to have that feeling. We just want to keep growing it and try to follow it up."

Video: PIT@NYI: Barzal deflects shot past Murray

Sheary made it 2-1 at 17:14 of the second period when he one-timed Phil Kessel's pass from the right face-off circle.

Anders Lee restored New York's two-goal lead with a power-play goal at 5:41 of the third period, scoring top shelf on a backhand off a pass from Barzal to make it 3-1.

"Every time we tried to get into a flow, we took another penalty. It's hard to win that way," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "We just didn't have nearly the discipline we needed to have to be the team we wanted to be tonight. We beat ourselves."

Jordan Eberle scored into an empty net at 17:31 to make it 4-1.

Video: PIT@NYI: Eberle seals Isles' win with empty-net goal

"I don't think we got many bounces, but I don't think that was the result of the game. I think we just weren't ready to play," Sheary said. "We let them get out to that two-goal lead and we took too many penalties. They were able to capitalize on a few of those, so it kind of put us away in the third period when they scored that third one. We weren't able to recover."

Barzal gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 5:10 of the first period. Eberle got control of the puck in the left corner and fed Johnny Boychuk at the right point, who sent a slap shot that Barzal redirected for his 20th goal of the season.

"When you creep around 15, 16 (goals), obviously you want to try and get 20," said Barzal, who leads all NHL rookies with 75 points. "I was in no panic or anything; I'm trying to get better and be a more complete player every game. It's nice to hit (20), but I'm just trying to grow as a player." 

Adam Pelech made it 2-0 when he took a pass from Tanner Fritz and scored on a slap shot from between the face-off circles at 10:33 of the first period.

"We love to play hockey, and everyone hates losing," Gibson said. "It's big for us to fight until the end here. We're playing for the team and the organization and each other in the dressing room, so it's really important."

Video: PIT@NYI: Sheary, Kessel combine for slick goal

 

Goal of the game

Pelech's goal at 10:33 of the first period.

Video: PIT@NYI: Pelech extends Isles' lead with one-timer

 

Save of the game

Gibson's save on Bryan Rust at 4:26 of the second period.

Video: PIT@NYI: Gibson denies Rust with great pad save

 

Highlight of the game

Lee's goal at 5:41 of the third period.

Video: PIT@NYI: Lee beats Murray with smooth backhand

 

They said it

"I felt pretty solid considering how much time I missed. I didn't really feel all that rusty. I thought I played pretty well and I felt pretty good for the most part." -- Penguins goalie Matt Murray 

 

"He's an incredible player. He's got an incredible future, and for him to continue what he's done this year is always good to see. I mean, every time he touches the puck, something great happens." -- Islanders forward Anders Lee on Mathew Barzal

 

Need to know

Kessel's assist was his 80th point (29 goals, 51 assists) of the season. … Barzal's 55 assists are the most by an NHL rookie since Nicklas Backstrom had 55 with the Washington Capitals in 2007-08. … Tavares passed Brent Sutter for fifth on the Islanders' all-time points list (612). … Defenseman Thomas Hickey played his 400th NHL game, all with New York.

 

What's next

Penguins: Host the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; SN, ATTSN-PT, RDS, NHL.TV)

Islanders: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; SN, MSG+, SUN, NHL.TV) 

 

Video: Barzal, Tavares lead Islanders past Penguins, 4-1

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