Erik Christensen and Sidney Crosby both found the back of the net as the Penguins upended the Islanders, 5-2, Tuesday night at Mellon Arena.
The victory catapulted the Penguins (20-17-7) past the Islanders (21-21-4) in the Atlantic Division standings.
"It's so close and so tight in the division. Every game is important and you can't take a night off," Christensen said. "Down the stretch, you never know what games you might think back on and wish you had or wish you had a chance and didn't pull through. We have to worry about taking it one shift and one game at a time to have the best chance at making the playoffs."
Christensen got the Penguins on the scoreboard 2:32 in the game. He took a Max Talbot pass and slid the puck past Mike Dunham on the back hand for a 1-0 lead. Ryan Whitney added an assist.
Richard Park tied it at 1-all for the Islanders when he roofed a puck past Marc-Andre Fleury while the Penguins were on a two-man advantage.
Michel Ouellet slammed in a rebound with 8:25 left in the second period. Evgeni Malkin and Christensen earned assists on the play. In a scrum in front of the net, the puck squirted to a wide-open Ouellet, who flipped the puck into the net for a power-play goal.
Arrom Asham scored with 2:16 remaining in the second period to knot the game at 2-all.
Crosby put the Penguins up for good, 3-2, 3:28 into the third period with a power-play goal. The puck trickled to Crosby on the near post and he slammed it into the net. Sergei Gonchar and Ouellet earned assists on the play.
"I don't think we can be happy with ourselves for the first two periods, but Marc and the PK was the big difference," Crosby said. "Through the first two periods, our power play wasn't doing too well and we were killing our penalties and Marc was making some big saves for us. I think a big portion of the credit goes to those guys tonight.
"It's nice we were able to re-focus. We have to look at that and be positive, but we also have to realize that you're not going to be able to just turn it on and off like that. Fortunately, we were able to tonight and it was good that we were able to regroup. We have to learn from that and make sure we don't put ourselves in those situations."
Christensen made it a 4-2 game when he snapped off a wrister just inside the blue line that beat Dunham top shelf 8:45 into the period. Colby Armstrong and Brooks Orpik were credited with the assists.
"We have a lot of character and it comes out when we're down and playing desperate," Christensen said. "We were lucky to be 2-2 after the second."
Crosby sealed the contest when he banged in a rebound off Mark Recchi's shot. Recchi stole the puck and broke into the New York zone with Crosby on a 2-on-1. Recchi's shot deflected off Dunham's leg pad, right to Crosby's stick and he chipped it into the net.
"The guys on the penalty kill were outstanding tonight. They did a great job and Marc-Andre had some great saves," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "It was one of those games where it was tough to get some momentum, especially in the first two periods. Obviously, our power play was not good in the second period and we were not pleased about it. The game was on the line after the second period, 2-2, and we responded well. That's a good thing. I am really happy with the way we responded in the third. We played pretty solid in the third."
Fleury stopped 31 of 33 shots to earn the win in goal.
"He was solid and gave us a real good chance to win the hockey game," Therrien said.
The Penguins return to action Thursday at 7 p.m. in Boston.
ICE CHIPS: Ronald Petrovicky was the Penguins' healthy scratch...Chris Campoli was the Islanders' scratch...The announced attendance was 16,958...Erik Christensen (No. 1), Sidney Crosby (No. 2) and Michel Ouellet (No. 3) were the game's three stars.