ISLANDERS 6, PITTSBURGH 5
By Jason Lockhart
After Mike Sillinger's shot snuck past Marc-Andre Fleury with 26.8 seconds left in the third period, the 15,742 boisterous Nassau Coliseum fans went crazy as the Islanders defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-5 Monday afternoon. The win stopped the Penguins' streak of points in 16 straight games and put the Islanders (29-23-8) back into a playoff position, tied with Montreal and Toronto for the eighth spot.
The line of Randy Robitaille, Jason Blake and Chris Simon came up big tonight. Simon tallied two goals, Blake added one and Robitaille contributed three assists. Ryan Malone scored a hat trick for the Penguins in defeat.
"When we get the support from the fans like we did tonight it gives you an extra guy on the ice," said Simon, the game's number one star. "When the crowd starts cheering it gives us a lift."
Rick DiPietro earned his 25th win of the season, and is now five wins shy of his season high of 30, which he set last year.
"Ricky gives us a chance to win every game," said Simon. "It starts with the strong goaltending and it gives us confidence when we go out there."
Just 45 seconds into the game the Penguins got on the board. Sidney Crosby's behind the back, spin-pass from the side of the net deflected over to Malone, who fired the puck past DiPietro for his tenth goal.
The Islanders' first power play, featuring new personnel, clicked on the first opportunity with 5:51 left in the opening period. Newly acquired Marc-Andre Bergeron fed the puck to the right boards, where Arron Asham gathered the puck. Asham then found Viktor Kozlov in the slot and in one quick motion wristed one home for his 21st goal of the season. Robitaille also saw some time on the first power play unit.
With 48.2 seconds left in the first period the Penguins struck on the power play to regain the lead. Crosby carried the puck into the offensive zone and waited until he was behind the net to feed it in front to Mark Recchi, who scored on the forehand.
The Penguins took a 3-1 lead when Ryan Malone stuffed in a wraparound 49 seconds into the second period.
The Islanders then struck twice in 15 seconds to even the score. First, Robitaille slid the puck to Simon, who deflected it over Fleury at 2:03 of the second period. On the next shift, Robitaille played give-and-go with Blake, who deflected Robitaille's pass out of mid-air past Fleury for his 28th goal of the season.
It became 4-3 Islanders when Miroslav Satan gathered in Kozlov's rebound shot and lifted one to the right of Fleury's pad, 8:05 into the second period.
With under 2:00 remaining in the second period, the Penguins tied up the score at two, while skating 5-on-3. Gonchar's shot from the left side was flipped over DiPietro by Mark Recchi, who grabbed the puck after it banked off the end boards.
After Malone scored his third of the game 48 seconds into the third period to put the Penguins up 5-4, the Islanders countered with the last two.
Simon scored his second of the game off a feed from Robitaille, 1:59 into the third period. Sillinger then scored the clincher when his wrist shot went under the glove of Fleury for his 20th goal of the season.
"Trent Hunter stuck with Crosby well on that last shift when he was going for the last goal," said head coach Ted Nolan. "We got the puck out and Andy made a good pass to Sillinger. It was nice that he got his 20th goal. It was a good transition play on our side."
Five Stars of the Game:
1. Chris Simon: Scored two goals
2. Mike Sillinger: Clutch in the final minute
3. Randy Robitaille: Three primary assists
4. Ryan Malone: Three goals for the Penguins
5. Marc-Andre Bergeron: Two assists in his debut with the Islanders
Stat of the Game: This was the first time the Islanders scored six goals since they lit up Atlanta 6-0 on December 16, 2006 at the Nassau Coliseum.
Havoc Zone Fans of the Game: Franklin, Anthony, Nick and Matt were first on line for today's Havoc Zone. All four went to high school together in Hicksville, but are currently attending different colleges. Franklin and Anthony have been friends for over 17 years, and despite the highs and lows, there has been one constant the Islanders. "We've gone to many games together and it's only right that we go to the Havoc Zone together."
Slapshots: Jason Blake matched his career-high of goals in a season with 28Â¦Today's attendance was 15,472Â¦This was the highest scoring game of the season, since the Islanders lost to the Penguins 7-4 at the Mellon Arena on December 15Â¦Twice the Islanders have allowed a hat trick in a game, but went on to win (Brendan Shanahan on December 3 at Madison Square Garden)Â¦Alexei Yashin (knee), Shawn Bates (groin), Radek Martinek (leg) and Bruno Gervais (ankle) were today's scratches.
Game Operations: The Habberstad Auto Group gave away a new 2007 Nissan Murano to Scott Tourin from Lindenhurst. It took only one shot for Scott to win the car after the other contestants failed to score in their initial shotsÂ¦The White Plain Plainsmen took part in the first intermission, participating in a shootout on the Coliseum iceÂ¦John from North Babylon did a stirring rendition of "Fame" by Irene Gara during the Islanders' Karaoke Roulette game.
39 Rick DiPietro
1 Mike Dunham
32 Brendan Witt - 44 Freddy Meyer
14 Chris Campoli - 6 Sean Hill
3 Tom Poti 47 Marc-Andre Bergeron
11 Andy Hilbert - 18 Mike Sillinger - 7 Trent Hunter
12 Chris Simon - 27 Randy Robitaille 55 Jason Blake
15 Jeff Tambellini - 25 Viktor Kozlov - 81 Miroslav Satan
10 Richard Park - 51 Frans Nielsen - 45 Arron Asham
29 Marc-Andre Fleury
41 Jocelyn Thibault
44 Brooks Orpik - 19 Ryan Whitney
3 Mark Eaton - 55 Sergei Gonchar
2 Josef Melichar - 5 Rob Scuderi
12 Ryan Malone - 87 Sidney Crosby - 8 Mark Recchi
7 Michel Ouellet - 71 Evgeni Malkin- 11 Jordan Staal
16 Erik Christensen - 25 Maxime Talbot - 20 Colby Armstrong
37 Jarkko Ruutu - 18 Dominic Moore - 26 Ronald Petrovicky