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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Marc-Andre Fleury celebrated his 22nd birthday Tuesday night.

Colby Armstrong gave him two big birthday presents.

Armstrong scored his first two goals of the year and nearly had a third to help guide the Penguins to a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders at Mellon Arena.

“It’s definitely a big weight off my shoulders and hopefully I can keep ’em going from now and keep the confidence and get the bounces,” Armstrong said.

Fleury stopped 33 of 35 shots to earn the win in goal on a night when all fans received a bobblehead with his likeness.

“It was very special. I think I will remember it for a while,” he said. “It makes everything so much more fun. It was a great gift to just get the win.”

Armstrong scored his first goal of the season 1:34 into the contest when he wristed a shot past Rick DiPietro. Streaking down the near side, Sidney Crosby fired a cross-ice pass to Armstrong. He fired the puck from inside the face-off circle and it sailed into the net. Josef Melichar added an assist.

“I thought it was going to go post and out, that’s the way it’s been going for me,” Armstrong said. “It was really good to hear the fans cheering after it went in. It was a real good feeling. It was great to get the win, too.”

Viktor Kozlov tied the game at 1-all when he scored with 1:18 remaining in the period. He one-timed a pass past Marc-Andre Fleury.

Arron Asham converted a rebound to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead 4:45 into the second period.

Armstrong scored his second goal with 8:20 left in the second period. Crosby’s initial shot rebounded off DiPietro’s shoulder and went straight into the air. The puck landed right in front of Armstrong and he slammed it into an open net. Mark Recchi had the other assist.

“It was good to get a couple breaks. The puck bounced to me in front, right on my stick,” he said. “It was a good feeling.”

Chris Thorburn gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead 36 seconds into the third period. Skating behind the Islanders goal on the near side, he sent the puck to the front of the net. It deflected off DiPietro’s leg and went into the net. Jordan Staal added the assist. 

Armstrong nearly completed his first NHL hat-trick with seconds left on the clock. Facing an empty net, he carried the puck into the Islanders zone, but was hooked repeatedly and knocked down before he could get off a shot as time expired.

“Oh I was battling there. I tried to shoot a couple times, but I kept getting hooked and couldn’t get it away,” he said. “Then I fell and took a swat at it, but the clock was done by then. We got the win, so that’s the most important thing.”

Fleury and the Penguins defense played strong in the third as they turned away a flurry of Islanders chances in front of the net.

“Fleury played very well,” Armstrong said. “He made some huge saves. He did a great job for us.”

ICE CHIPS: John LeClair, Andre Roy and Michel Ouellet were the Penguins’ scratches…Joel Bouchard and Alexei Yashin were the Islanders’ scratches…The announced attendance was 17,082…Marc-Andre Fleury (No. 1), Colby Armstrong (No. 2) and Sidney Crosby (No. 3) were the game’s three stars.


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