Robert Nilsson scored in the sixth round of a shootout to give the Islanders a 5-4 victory over the Penguins on Saturday night.
This was the fifth time in seven meetings the two teams went to overtime, and the fourth that ended in a shootout. New York won the previous three shootouts, while Pittsburgh won in the 5-minute overtime session.
Michel Ouellet scored in the first round for Pittsburgh, and Shawn Bates tied it up in the third round. Sergei Gonchar and Jason Blake traded goals in the fourth round, while Ryan Whitney and Alexei Yashin both scored in the fifth round.
Sebastien Caron, who had a shutout the last time these two teams met, stopped 28 shots for the Penguins.
Blake scored twice for the Islanders, who held rookie Sidney Crosby scoreless. Miroslav Satan and rookie Jeremy Colliton also had goals for the Islanders, who have earned points in four straight games (2-0-2).
Rick DiPietro made 20 saves. He now has 30 wins for the first time in his NHL career.
“Thirty is a nice number,” DiPietro said. “I give my teammates a lot of credit for hitting that mark. But if we lost tonight, I wouldn’t have slept. I don’t know if I want to remember tonight.”
Crosby remains three points shy of 100. If he manages to turn the trick in the Penguins’ last two games, he will be the youngest player ever to reach the century mark, and the second 18-year-old to do so, along with Dale Hawerchuk.
“I really want to do it, but I can’t afford to think about it,” Crosby said. “I have two games left, and if it happens, it happens.”
Satan had a chance to put the Islanders ahead 8:24 into the game when he broke in alone on Caron during a penalty kill, but his in-close backhand hit the right post.
Pittsburgh opened the scoring 35 seconds later on that same power play when Gonchar’s left point wrist shot made it through two screens and got past DiPietro.
The Islanders tied it up on a power-play goal by Blake at 11:31. Stationed at the right post, Blake tipped Satan’s right circle shot past Aubin for his 27th goal.
Blake put the Islanders ahead with his second power-play tally of the game 33 seconds into the second period. This time, Blake tipped Chris Campoli’s right point shot.
Satan didn’t miss on another breakaway attempt 40 seconds after Blake’s goal. He beat Caron on a wrist shot over the goalie’s right shoulder for his team-leading 34th goal.
LeClair moved the Penguins closer at 10:33 on a power play. He blasted a slap shot from the top of the right circle that beat DiPietro to the far corner. Caron earned the second assist on the goal.
Colliton earned his first NHL goal at 14:27, finishing off Sean Bergenheim’s pass.
“I’m happy,” Colliton said. “Bergy made a nice play on the rush, and I knew he was going to get the puck over to me.”
Just prior to that, Penguins winger Colby Armstrong suffered a facial injury at the other end of the ice when defenseman Bruno Gervais accidentally caught Armstrong with his helmet while ducking under a check. He did return to play the third period with a face mask.
LeClair tipped a shot past DiPietro with 13.9 seconds left in the period to narrow the gap to 4-3.
Hilbert tied the game with 1:41 left on a power play rebound off a scramble in front of DiPietro.
DiPietro said that the Penguins have talent, despite their record.
“They’re good offensively, and they’re very good at capitalizing on other’s mistakes,” DiPietro said. “And Crosby is a great player, and is going to be a more dangerous player in a couple of years.”
Crosby has enjoyed his first year in the league, except for the lack of wins.
“There are a lot of us in our first year,” Crosby said. “We’ll have a chance to grow together, and win more games. The most fun about my first season is playing against all these great players that I only watched on TV.”
Pittsburgh has held their own against the Islanders this season. Going into the home-and-home series, the Penguins are 3-0-3 against New York, and won the previous two matchups. 10 of Pittsburgh’s 56 points were earned against the Islanders. … Defenseman Ryan Caldwell became the 10th player to make his NHL debut in an Islander uniform this season. He replaced Allan Rourke, who suffered a groin injury. … The two teams meet again Monday night in Pittsburgh.