The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 29, 2013

Islanders thrash Penguins

PITTSBURGH — Matt Moulson scored a goal and assisted on another, Evgeni Nabokov stopped 37 shots and the New York Islanders dominated the listless Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Tuesday night.

John Tavares scored for the second straight game for New York while Michael Grabner collected his fourth goal of the season and Casey Cizikas found the net for the first time in his career.

It was more than enough to send the Penguins to their third loss in four games. Pascal Dupuis scored with just over a minute remaining to avoid the shutout.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 13 shots before being pulled after the second period. The Penguins gave it away 11 times, with two of the turnovers leading to New York goals.

Pittsburgh has dominated the series over the past five seasons but dropped its third straight to the Islanders, its longest losing skid against New York since 2007.

The Penguins had scored first in each of their five games this season, but Cizikas gave the Islanders a well-earned early lead by stealing the puck from Paul Martin deep in Pittsburgh’s zone then swooping behind the net and wrapping it around an outstretched Fleury.

The goal served as an exclamation point on a period the Islanders dominated in a place they rarely win. New York came in losers in 13 of its past 14 visits to Pittsburgh, the victory a 5-3 triumph last March that derailed any hopes the Penguins had of catching the New York Rangers for the Atlantic Division title.

Pittsburgh expects to be in the mix again during this truncated 48-game season but has hit an early rough patch that left the largest crowd in the brief history of Consol Energy Center voicing its displeasure following another disjointed effort.

The Penguins were drummed 5-2 by Toronto in the home opener last Wednesday and appeared no sharper six days later against a young, quick team that flustered Pittsburgh with its forechecking.

Not that the Penguins needed any help giving it away.

The Islanders went up 2-0 6:46 into the second period when Pittsburgh defenseman Deryk Engelland misplayed a New York clearing attempt at the blue line. The puck bounced off Engelland’s stick and Grabner pounced, beating two Penguins up the ice then flicking a wrist shot that deflected off Fleury’s glove and into the net.

The goal seemed to briefly energize Pittsburgh, who spent the next five minutes buzzing Nabokov.

All the pressure failed to produce a goal and a pair of power-play tallies by the Islanders late in the period put New York firmly in control.

Tavares wristed a pretty cross-ice pass from Moulson by Fleury to make it 3-0 and Moulson scored less than two minutes later, collecting a long shot off the end boards and stuffing it by a foundering Fleury. The goaltender actually fell on his rear after the initial shot and failed to get up before Moulson stuffed it by him, a fitting ending to a frustrating night.

Nabokov had no such problems. He improved to 10-2 lifetime against Pittsburgh, which went 0 for 3 on the power play, including a fruitless 5 minutes spanning the second and third periods after New York’s Colin McDonald was hit with a boarding penalty and a game misconduct for his hit on Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy.

Notes: Islanders F Jesse Joensuu is out 5 to 7 weeks after having sports hernia surgery. Joensuu sustained the injury while playing in Europe during the NHL lockout ... Pittsburgh D Mat Niskanen is day to day with a right foot injury ... The Penguins announced earlier Tuesday that Consol Energy Center will host the second USA Hockey All-American Prospects game on Sept. 26, 2013 ... The Islanders play at New Jersey on Friday while the Penguins play in New York against the Rangers.

 

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