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Penguins' Fleury saves win over Islanders on penalty kills

The SportsXchange

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Over and over again, the Pittsburgh Penguins asked Marc-Andre Fleury to save them on Tuesday night, And over and over again, Fleury responded.

Fleury made 32 saves in a brilliant performance as the Penguins held the New York Islanders scoreless on seven power--play opportunities in a 4-2 win at Nassau Coliseum.

James Neal, Simon Despres, Brandon Sutter and Pascal Dupuis scored as the Penguins (7-3-0) won their fourth straight game to remain atop the Atlantic Division. But the star of the night was Fleury, who was perfect outside of surrendering two goals in a 35-second span in the third period.

" 'Flower' was huge for us," Penguins winger Craig Adams said. "He was definitely our best penalty killer."

Added Penguins coach Dan Bylsma: "I don't think you can say enough about the penalty kill tonight. I thought Marc-Andre Fleury was outstanding in that regard. Stood tall in there."

Evgeni Nabokov made 22 saves for the Islanders (4-4-1), who are 0-for-14 on the power play in their past two games.

"When we get that many opportunities we have to score a goal ... ," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.

The Penguins, who moved past the idle Bruins for the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference, have outscored the opposition 18-6 since a 4-1 loss to the Islanders on Jan. 29.

"They had a good game in our building, wasn't thrilled with that," Fleury said. "Glad we (played) good today and got those two points."

The Penguins dodged a huge scare in the second period, when star Sidney Crosby was hit in the face with a puck. Crosby, who missed 101 games the previous two seasons because of concussions, was helped off the ice but returned to the game a few minutes later. He had a bruise on his nose, which was still bleeding as he spoke to reporters after the game.

The Penguins took a 1-0 lead on Neal's power-play goal just 2:58 into the game, but it was the Islanders who controlled the offensive flow for the first two periods, during which they had six power play opportunities and outshot the Penguins 24-14.

Fleury made a series of point-blank saves -- including three during a power play midway through the second -- before Despres extended the Penguins' lead to 2-0 with a slap shot from just inside the blue line with four minutes left in the period. The Penguins then seemed to put the game away when Sutter scored on a 2-on-1 breakaway 1:44 into the third.

But the Islanders made things interesting with quick goals by Grabner and Boyes. Grabner was open to the left of Fleury, whom he beat 3:14 into the third for the Islanders' first goal since Boyes' overtime game-winner against the Devils last Thursday. Just 35 seconds later, Boyes pulled the Islanders within a goal when he put back Matt Moulson's shot, which had glanced off Fleury.

A timeout by Bylsma calmed the Penguins and Fleury made a handful of spectacular saves to preserve the Penguins' lead, including a stick save of Boyes' slap shot with 2:35 left.

Dupuis' empty-net goal with 39 seconds left sealed the victory for Pittsburgh.

"They were buzzing and we knew we had to find a way to just slow things down," Crosby said. "Good call by coach to do that. Guys responded really well."

The loss snapped the Islanders' three-game winning streak against the Penguins, which was the franchise's longest winning streak against Pittsburgh since the Islanders won five in a row from Feb. 1, 1986 through Dec. 23, 1986.

NOTES: Islanders forward Colin McDonald returned to the lineup after serving a two-game suspension for delivering a reckless hit to the Penguins' Ben Lovejoy on Jan. 29. ... The Islanders signed forward Brett Gallant to a one-year, entry-level deal Tuesday. Gallant has 174 penalty minutes in 37 games with the Islanders' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, Conn., and has racked up 649 penalty minutes in 143 games over four minor league seasons. ... Penguins left winger Chris Kunitz was named the NHL's second star for the week ending Feb. 3 after he scored five goals, including a pair of game-winners, in leading Pittsburgh to a 3-0 week. Kunitz collected a career-high four goals in the Penguins' 6-3 win over the Capitals on Sunday. He was the first player to score four goals in a game for the Penguins since Jaromir Jagr on Oct. 14, 2000.
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