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Fleury struggles in Penguins' 6-4 loss to Isles

Wednesday - 5/8/2013, 11:42am  ET

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) and center Sidney Crosby (87) react after New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo scored a goal in the second period of Game 4 of their first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., Tuesday, May 7, 2013. The Islanders won 6-4. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

IRA PODELL
AP Sports Writer

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Marc-Andre Fleury sat with his head in hands for several minutes before taking questions in the cramped Pittsburgh Penguins dressing room.

After struggling in a disappointing 6-4 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday night, Fleury needed time to gather himself enough to discuss his difficult outing.

"I'm not happy, that's for sure," Fleury said softly. "It's frustrating."

It could soon be worse for Fleury, who might be the backup goalie when the Penguins host the Islanders in Game 5 of the first-round series on Thursday night in Pittsburgh.

Veteran Tomas Vokoun was signed by the Penguins as an insurance policy just in case a replacement for Fleury was needed.

Fleury has started all 78 playoff games the Penguins have played since 2007, but Vokoun has had success against the Islanders. He went 3-0 against New York this season in four outings and posted a 0.90 goals-against average -- stopping 98 of 101 shots.

Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma spoke glowingly about Vokoun after the Game 4 loss, but stopped short of saying a change would occur.

"He has had success and won hockey games against this team and has been successful this year," Bylsma said. "We're going to regroup and come back and come out for Game 5 with a new focus.

"One of the reasons we wanted Tomas Vokoun was to play hockey games and win hockey games for us. Marc-Andre Fleury is our starting goaltender and started this series and won us some hockey games, made a lot of saves for us, but we're not going to talk about our starting goaltender for Game 5."

Leads aren't safe in the wild first-round playoff matchup between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh. Suddenly, neither are the top-seeded Penguins.

Through four games of the best-of-seven series, both teams have two wins. The latest big momentum shift has swung sharply in the direction of the No. 8 Islanders.

John Tavares scored with 9:49 left, and the Islanders beat the Penguins to get even in the series.

"We found a way today. Another roller coaster ride," Tavares said. "We learned from those games when we gave up leads -- a lot of us said that one bounce can change a season."

Or end one.

The Penguins were ousted in the first round in each of the previous two years. They now face the prospect of another early summer if they can't turn things around quickly.

"We've got a lot of veteran guys in this room that have been through this," Penguins forward James Neal said. "We just need to regroup here. We'll come out ready to go and fired up in our own building.

"We knew what we were up against. Once you get into playoffs, seeds and where you finished is out the door."

Tavares slammed in his own rebound in front after Brad Boyes fed him following a turnover by Penguins star Evgeni Malkin. It was the Islanders' third one-goal advantage in the game. This highly entertaining series has already featured 5-4 and 6-4 finishes at Nassau Coliseum.

"This was intense and fun," said Islanders captain Mark Streit, who had two goals. "We got big chances and scored big goals. Now we have a best two of three."

Tavares was serenaded with cheers of "M-V-P" from the frantic crowd that is believing an upset is possible. Casey Cizikas shoved in a shot with 1:16 left to add some much-needed insurance.

Brian Strait and Kyle Okposo also had goals. Evgeni Nabokov made 27 saves for the Islanders.

"You get into the playoffs, you put in so much effort to get here, we want to make the most of it," Tavares said. "We believe in this room. We have a lot of character."

Neal, in his return after injuring his ankle in the series opener, scored in the first period. Malkin added a tying goal in the second, and Brandon Sutter and Pascal Dupuis provided the Penguins with a pair of one-goal leads they couldn't protect.

"Momentum shifts so quickly," Neal said. "Once you regain it you've got to keep it. You saw how energetic their crowd was and how much they fed off that. We just need to put this one behind us and get back to our game. I don't think we've gotten there yet."

Fleury stopped only 18 shots. Last year, he allowed 26 goals in a six-game loss to Philadelphia.

Pittsburgh beat New York 5-4 in overtime on Sunday in a game in which both teams squandered two-goal leads.

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