Penguins' 16-Game Point Streak Snapped

Tuesday, February 20th 2007, 7:45 am
By: News On 6

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) _ The Pittsburgh Penguins knew they'd be beaten again, they just didn't expect it this way.

The offense was clicking, and even with shaky goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins were less than a half minute away from extending their point streak to 17 games.

Mike Sillinger wrecked that when his long drive skimmed in off Fleury's glove with 26.8 seconds left Monday, giving the New York Islanders a 6-5 victory.

``This was a tough one to lose,'' said Ryan Malone, who scored in the opening minute of all three periods for his second career hat trick _ both this season against New York. ``We didn't want to give one up in the last minute.''

Pittsburgh, riding a 14-0-2 surge that vaulted the Penguins from also-ran to Atlantic Division-contenders, got the unexpected goals from Malone _ who has only 12 this season _ two from Mark Recchi and four assists from NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby.

The Penguins held off New Jersey on Friday night and then edged Washington at home Sunday before completing their three-games-in-four-days stretch on Long Island.

Fleury took Sunday off after starting 14 of 15 games, but the rest wasn't enough to keep him from giving up at least four goals for the seventh time in nine outings.

``Lately, we've given him four, five goals a game,'' Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. ``His last four games in a row, he's not been good enough.''

In other NHL games, Nashville topped Phoenix 4-1, and Boston beat Philadelphia 6-3.

Only a few weeks ago, the playoffs were a long shot for the young Penguins. Their surge has vaulted them into fourth place in the East and within five points of New Jersey in the Atlantic.

Pittsburgh hasn't reached the playoffs since 2001.

``Guys in here are disappointed and upset, and that's a good thing,'' said Recchi, who added three assists. ``We played three hockey games in such a short time, and to see people unhappy after losing the third one is a good sign.''

Sillinger took a pass from Andy Hilbert in the high slot and got off a shot that hit Fleury's glove and found space under the goalie's left arm for his 20th goal. New York, 2-1 on its seven-game homestand, rebounded from a shutout loss to New Jersey on Saturday.

``We found a way to win,'' Sillinger said of the Islanders, 8-2-4 in their last 14. ``When you outscore a team like this, you're doing something right.''

Crosby nearly set up another goal seconds earlier, but couldn't escape Trent Hunter behind the net.

``When you score five goals on the road, you've got to win those games,'' Therrien said.

Chris Simon scored twice, Viktor Kozlov, Jason Blake and Miroslav Satan added goals, and Marc-Andre Bergeron had two assists in his Islanders debut one day after being acquired from Edmonton.

``We weren't worried about their streak or anything, we were just kind of worried about ourselves,'' forward Arron Asham said.

Pittsburgh, which led 3-1 and 5-4, hadn't lost in regulation since Jan. 10 at Florida. It was the Penguins' longest streak since an 18-game run in 1993 that included a league-record 17 consecutive wins.

``Losing is never fun, but it was going to happen sometime,'' said Crosby, who has three goals and 14 assists against the Islanders this season. ``Mentally, it's tough to go through something like that and come up short.''

And again it was the Penguins' defense that let them down. Pittsburgh continued a recent pattern of blown leads and had a six-game winning streak broken.

Crosby is first in the league with 95 points, despite only one goal in 11 games. He has multipoint games in all six contests against New York this season, and his 31 career points in two seasons are his most against any team.

``We want to make sure we get our goals-against down,'' the 19-year-old phenom said. ``These recent games are kind of like shootouts. If you win, they're great, but if you lose, they're draining.''

Simon broke out of a 26-game scoring drought, netting his second of the game and seventh overall 1:11 later.

New York's comeback marked the fourth time in six games the Penguins blew an advantage of at least two goals, but they had won the others.

Predators 4, Coyotes 1

At Nashville, Tenn., Scott Hartnell scored two goals in 23 seconds to lift the Predators back on top of the Western Conference.

The Predators, who snapped a two-game losing streak, leapfrogged idle Detroit into first place in the Central Division and the West. They did it despite another scoreless outing from Peter Forsberg.

Jean-Pierre Dumont and Jason Arnott also scored for Nashville, tied with Buffalo for the overall lead in the NHL with 83 points.

Oleg Saprykin spoiled Tomas Vokoun's shutout bid by scoring Phoenix's lone goal with 2:46 left.

Bruins 6, Flyers 3

At Philadelphia, Petr Tenkrat scored twice during a wild second period and helped Boston to a road win.

Marco Sturm, P.J. Axelsson, Brandon Bochenski, and Marc Savard also scored for the Bruins, who have won four of five.

Jeff Carter, Kyle Calder, and Scottie Upshall, playing his first game in Philadelphia since being acquired Thursday in the deal that sent Forsberg to Nashville, scored for the Flyers. They had won three of four.

Tim Thomas made 30 saves in earning his fourth win in five games.