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Penguins’ two-goal third period extends winning streak to 11 games

Sean Leahy
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UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Over the past three seasons, when the Pittsburgh Penguins have faced the New York Islanders, a streak has died.

In Dec. 2010, with Sidney Crosby having collected points in 25 straight games, the Islanders held him off the scoresheet.

Last March, the Penguins had won 10 in a row at CONSOL Energy Center. The Islanders visited and ended the good times with a 5-3 win.

(You could even go back to 1998 or 1999 with the Islanders ending separate Penguins winning streaks, if you wanted.)

Friday's meeting between the two failed to see a streak halted, however, as Pittsburgh won their 11th consecutive game in a 4-2 victory.

For the Islanders, it was another game where they were sunk in the third period. After outshoot the Penguins 14-3 and outscoring them 1-0 in the first, they allowed Pittsburgh some life with a Joe Vitale goal 8:11 into the second.

“After the first period, we talked about how we have to match their energy and their effort, and we did," said Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who finished with 33 saves.

Later in the second period, Josh Bailey would give the Islanders a lead for 2:28 before Chris Kunitz's 19th of the season sent things into the final frame even.

Third periods have been a nightmare for the Islanders all season and a strength for the Penguins. Entering Friday night, New York led the NHL in third-period goals allowed with 45, while Pittsburgh was tops in third-period goals for with 41.

New York was coming off three games where they allowed 10 total goals in the final period. Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said afterward he was aware of their struggles, but he, and his team, knew they were facing a desperate hockey team.

But just under two minutes into the third period, Pittsburgh grabbed their first lead of the game and didn't look back as Brandon Sutter tallied his fourth game-winning goal of the season:

On Friday morning Bylsma said that the streak is not the focus of the team right now. "Our judgment is that the next one is bigger than the previous one," he said.

The next one comes Sunday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, who they've won two of three against, all in close games.

Over their 11 wins, seven have come by one goal -- eight if you want to count Friday's game since Pascal Dupuis' empty-netter came with under a second to go. One aspect of this Penguins' streak has been their ability to claw back from deficits and win those tight games.

“That’s the only way you can get a streak like that," said Vokoun. "You’ve got to get a little luck and win those close games.”

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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