Defenseman Travis Hamonic blocked a shot by Penguins winger Phil
Kessel with less than 10 seconds remaining as the Islanders
continued their recent surge by edging the Penguins 2-1 at Barclays
The Islanders had to play the final 4:22 without starting goalie
Jaroslav Halak, who appeared to suffer a lower body injury while
making a sprawling save of a shot by Trevor Daley. Head coach Jack
Capuano said afterward he had no update on Halak, who has taken four
trips to injured reserve since the start of last season.
Backup Thomas Greiss, who hadn't played since last Thursday, took
Halak's place on Tuesday, though Halak (31 saves) was the one
credited with the victory -- the 200th of his NHL career.
"I'm not a goalie, so I don't know what it's like," Hamonic said of
Greiss' unexpected entrance. "But it can't be the easiest thing in
Hamonic made it a little easier for Greiss on what went down as
Greiss' third and final save. With the Penguins employing the extra
attacker, Kessel got free to the left of the Islanders' net.
Greiss was leaning to his right, but Hamonic stuck out a leg and
deflected the shot.
"I think (Hamonic) got it," Kessel said. "Obviously I need to bury
The puck caromed across the ice and New York cleared it as time
"There were a lot of guys on the ice, so you knew something was
going to be open," Hamonic said. "It hit my foot. 'Greisser' was
Regardless, Hamonic decided to take some tongue-in-cheek credit for
"He's been busting (me) about having the shot blockers on, so I
figured I'd get one for him," Hamonic said with a grin.
The Islanders were in position to win their fourth straight game
thanks to another player with no problem getting in puck's way on
the other side of the ice. Anders Lee served as the screen for both
New York goals, the second of which snapped a 1-1 tie with 11:05
left in the game.
The Islanders were on the power play when Lee began jostling for
position with Penguins defenseman Kris Letang in front of Pittsburgh
goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (25 saves). Lee won the battle, and Letang
fell to the ice, as teammate Nick Leddy wound up for a slap shot.
The puck ticked off Lee's stick as Letang tried to scramble back to
In the first period, the Islanders went ahead 1-0 when John Tavares'
slap shot sailed past Lee and the Penguins' Brian Dumoulin and under
the right arm of Fleury for a power play goal.
"It's a game of inches, you have to fight for every inch on that
ice," Capuano said. "That's what he does for our hockey team and
that's what you're going to need, especially come playoff time
against good teams."
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The Islanders (37-20-7) have cemented themselves as Eastern
Conference contenders by winning 11 of their last 14, including six
of seven (6-1-0) on a road trip that ended Sunday. It was the most
successful seven-game road trip in franchise history.
With Tuesday's victory, the Islanders remained three points behind
the second-place New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division --
the second- and third-place finishers in each division meet in the
first round of the playoffs, with the second-place team holding home
ice advantage -- and moved five points ahead of the fourth-place
Penguins. The Islanders have three games in hand on the Rangers and
two in hand on the Penguins.
"One point decided home ice for us last year, and it was a big
difference-maker," Tavares said, referring to the Islanders'
seven-game loss to the Washington Capitals. "Each point is crucial."
Letang scored in the first period for the Penguins (34-24-8), who
lost for the third time in five games, but remained the first wild
card in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Detroit Red
Wings and three points ahead of the ninth-place Philadelphia Flyers.
"Would we like to string a few (wins) in a row? Sure we would,"
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. "But we can't get
frustrated. We've just got to keep playing. That's the race. It's a
NOTES: The Islanders scratched D Calvin De Haan (lower body), D
Marek Zidlicky (undisclosed) as well as the healthy trio of RW Steve
Bernier, G Jean-Francois Berube and LW Eric Boulton. ... The only
other winning seven-game road trip for the Islanders took place last
season, when they went 5-2-0 from Dec. 31, 2014 through Jan. 13,
2015. ... The Penguins scratched LW Carl Hagelin, who missed his
second straight game following an on-ice collision Saturday against
Calgary, as well as C Kevin Porter and D Derrick Pouliot. ... A pair
of injured Penguins, RW Beau Bennett (upper body) and LW Eric Fehr
(lower body) participated in morning skate. Head coach Mike Sullivan
said both players could return Friday against the Columbus Blue
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