Hockey / Sports

Penguins overcome early deficit to beat Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Pittsburgh Penguins overcame an early 2-0 deficit to defeat the New York Islanders, 6-4, at Nassau Coliseum tonight.

The victory was the Penguins' 15th in their past 19 games (15-3-1) and raised their Eastern Conference-leading record to 36-13-2.

Michael Grabner gave New York a 1-0 lead just 99 seconds into the game, when he pounced on a loose puck in the left circle and threw a high shot past goalie Jeff Zatkoff.

New York made it 2-0 at 8:21, when the Penguins turned the puck over in the neutral zone and the Islanders got a two-on-one break that culminated in Brock Nelson beating Zatkoff from the inner edge of the left circle.

The Penguins countered quickly, however, as Sidney Crosby set up Chris Kunitz for his 25th of the season on a slap shot from above the left hash at 9:32.

Kunitz returned the favor less than two minutes later, as he threw the puck to the front of the net and Crosby put it past goalie Kevin Poulin for his 27th at 11:24.

Defenseman Matt Niskanen's assist on that goal extended his scoring streak to a career-best six games. It was his 16th point in the past 16 games.

Penguins right winger Craig Adams was shaken up in a mid-ice collision with teammate Jayson Megna seconds before Nelson scored and, while he took a few shifts after that, he eventually adjourned to the locker room to be examined.

He was back for the start of the second period, however.

Rookie defenseman Olli Maatta put the Penguins in front, 3-2, with a nice individual effort at 5:35 of the second.

He took a drop pass from Kunitz, cut through the left circle then went to the net before sliding a backhander past Poulin for his fifth of the season. Niskanen get the second assist.

The Penguins' top-ranked power play put on a show of its own later in the period, keeping the puck in the New York zone for 86 seconds before Crosby set up Kris Letang, who scored into a mostly open net from inside the left circle.

Islanders forward Josh Bailey, who hadn't scored in the previous 37 games, ended the Penguins' run of unanswered goals at 3:10 of the third, after Penguins defensemen Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin collided in the neutral zone.

Bailey collected the loose puck and broke in alone on Zatkoff before beating him on the stick side to pull the Islanders within a goal.

The Penguins countered quickly, however, as Evgeni Malkin broke to the net and steered a James Neal pass behind Poulin at 5:59 for his 14th of the season.

The Islanders were revived again at 10:55, however, when Zatkoff failed to cover a loose puck in the crease and Kyle Okposo poked it across the goal line.

Minutes later, the Penguins had to survive a five-on-three disadvantage that lasted for 50 seconds, but managed to do it to preserve the victory that was sealed by an empty-net goal by Brandon Sutter with 3.1 seconds left.

The Penguins are off until Saturday, when they will visit Dallas at 8:08 p.m.

(c)2014 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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