UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP)—The Pittsburgh Penguins’ young players are looking more like veterans.
Caron, in his third NHL season, said that he likes how all the youngsters on his team are starting to come together.
“This is a great group of guys,” Caron said. “We’re coming together as a team, and we’re all growing up together.”
The shutout was Caron’s first this season and fourth of his career.
Garth Snow, making his first start since March 6 at Washington, stopped 25 shots for the Islanders. New York has lost three straight, scoring just one goal during that stretch.
Islanders coach Brad Shaw seems to think his young players may be running out of gas.
“For a long time, they seemed to carry our team, energy-wise,” Shaw said, “but we seem to have fallen off a bit.”
Caron’s biggest save in a scoreless first period came when he got his left pad against the right post to deny Miroslav Satan’s short-handed breakaway backhand attempt at 10:40.
“We made it easy for them in the first period,” Crosby said. “What was different in the last two periods is that we consistently got the puck in deep in their zone, and created a lot of chances.”
Pittsburgh scored twice in a 71-second span midway through the second period to take a 2-0 lead.
Gonchar’s slap shot deflected off defenseman Joel Bouchard and got past Snow for a power-play goal at 11:54. LeClair scored his 401st career goal at 13:05, as Snow got caught leaning the wrong way on a three-man rush. LeClair finished the play with a wrist shot to the right side.
Pittsburgh made it 3-0 lead with 64 seconds left in the period when Crosby stuffed a backhander to the far post for his 33rd goal of the season.
New York had a chance to get back into the contest early in the third period, but Caron made a stick save on a penalty shot by Sean Bergenheim at 1:51.
“Even though we were up 3-0, we didn’t want to let them get back to their game,” Caron said. “I thought he might try to go (top) shelf, but I saw him look five-hole and was able to get my stick there in time.”
Bergeinheim was frustrated with the missed attempt, as well as his team’s play for 40 minutes.
“I just tried to take it to the left side and go five-hole, and it hit his stick,” Bergenheim said. “I can’t be happy with what I did there.
“We were horrible in the first two periods,” Bergenheim said. “We played a little better in the third. I know I had a horrible game.”
Gonchar wrapped things up with a slap shot at 18:16 on the power play.
Penguins coach Michel Therrien was happy for Caron.
“You got the feeling he was sharp out there, right from the start,” Therrien said. “He deserved the shutout.”
The Islanders have looked sloppy during their last two losses, including a 5-1 defeat to the Rangers on Wednesday night. Captain Alexei Yashin said the team can’t let up, even if the playoffs are just about out of reach.
“We have to be professional,” Yashin said. “We just couldn’t do anything, but we still have to come out and play hard every game.”
Snow’s last win was at Philadelphia on Nov. 26. He has appeared in 10 games since then, going 0-8. . Crosby has missed only one game during his rookie season, Feb. 2 against Ottawa due to the flu. . The Islanders are now scoreless in three penalty-shot attempts this season.