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Crosby lifts Penguins to 4-3 win over Islanders

Friday - 11/22/2013, 11:16pm  ET

Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin (71) prepares get off a shot to score over New York Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin (60) in the second-period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Friday, Nov. 22, 2013.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

DAN SCIFO
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The New York Islanders' up-and-down, fast-paced tempo always seem to bring out the worst defensively in the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Fortunately, for the Penguins, captain Sidney Crosby was there, helping his team prevent a second home collapse in four weeks against the upstart Islanders.

Crosby scored with 1:16 remaining on Friday to give the Penguins a 4-3 victory over the Islanders during a game that saw New York rally from a pair of two two-goal deficits for the second time in two games against Pittsburgh.

"We had the lead, so they started taking chances, and we kind of got sucked into playing that style of game," Crosby said. "Instead of managing the puck, we were taking chances and throwing the puck everywhere, and when you play that game, whoever scores the last goal is going to win."

That's exactly what happened and Crosby provided the late game-winner.

Crosby's 12th goal of the season was also the 250th of his career, and the Penguins' captain also had an assist. Chris Kunitz had two goals and an assist, Evgeni Malkin added a goal and two assists, and James Neal had two assists. Malkin's goal ended his career-high 15-game scoring drought.

Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff, playing for the first time since Nov. 2, stopped 32 shots in his fourth NHL start.

"We had a lot of chances, but that wasn't our best game," Crosby said. "We probably could've put it away early, but they hung around."

Thomas Vanek scored twice for the Islanders in his first game after missing five with an upper-body injury. Vanek has three goals and two assists with New York since being acquired from Buffalo last month. Colin McDonald also got his second of the season for New York.

Kevin Poulin made 30 saves for the Islanders. He started his sixth straight game in place of injured starter Evgeni Nabokov, who is out with a groin injury.

The two teams combined for six goals through two periods, but things settled down in the third. With less than 90 seconds left, Kunitz got the puck to Pascal Dupuis behind the net, and he centered it to Crosby, who got the tiebreaker for the Penguins.

"It was kind of a patient third period from both teams, and there wasn't much going on," Crosby said. "A lot different from the first two periods."

The Penguins won their third straight and fourth win in five games to rebound from a three-game skid. Pittsburgh also won its third straight at home -- and fifth time in six games at Consol Energy Center, where the Penguins are 10-3 while having allowed just 24 goals.

Pittsburgh, tops in the Metropolitan Division, thumped rival Washington 4-0 on Wednesday night and gained a measure of revenge from a heartbreaking loss to the Islanders four weeks earlier. However, it wasn't easy for the Penguins, who weren't nearly as disciplined defensively on Friday.

The Islanders, tied for last in the Metropolitan Division entering Friday, lost for the seventh time in nine games, but the matchup with the division-leading Penguins brought out the best in New York, as it has done recently.

Pittsburgh, which survived a six-game playoff series against the underdog Islanders last season, held third-period leads of 2-1 and 3-2 four weeks ago before New York rallied, scoring three times in the final 7:14 for a 4-3 victory. The Islanders nearly did it again, coming back from early deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 before Crosby's heroics.

"We were flirting with danger and we realized that in the third," Crosby said.

Malkin has been productive with 14 assists in 15 games -- 12 coming in nine November games -- but had no goals to show for it. He previously scored Oct. 17 during a 4-1 win at Philadelphia and it showed as emotion poured from Malkin, who aggressively pumped his fist and slammed his stick against the end boards after beating Poulin midway through the second period.

"It's a good moment for him to get the goal," Penguins' coach Dan Bylsma said. "He's played some really good hockey and has done some really good things. To see the puck dribble over the line was a great moment for him."

New York committed three penalties in the first 7:42 of the game, and Kunitz made the Islanders pay, staking the Penguins to a 2-0 lead with two power-play goals in 7:55.

Crosby and Malkin's slick tic-tac-toe passing sequence set up Kunitz's first goal 4:04 into the game. Kunitz scored his second less than four minutes later, blowing a slap shot past Poulin after taking a pass off the rush from Neal.

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