The Islanders won their second straight game from the Penguins Thursday night, 5-3 at the Coliseum, keeping the rival Rangers’ lead atop the Eastern Conference at five points. Both the Penguins at Rangers now have five games left.
“They’re both pretty big rivals of our and we want to beat both of them,” said Josh Bailey, who had two goals and three assists, continuing his points streak to six games and giving him three goals and nine assists during that span. “We just try to focus on winning.”
LOSER, BY A NOSE: Penguins star Sidney Crosby drips blood on the ice last night after taking a puck to the nose in the second period of the Islanders’ 5-3 win.
Though it came rarely for most of the season, the Islanders recently have found a way to win with some consistency, going 5-1-0 in their past six after a 4-1-0 road trip ended with a 5-3 win in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
“We just want to win,” said Kyle Okposo, who had two goals to give him five in the past four games. “No matter where you are in the standings, you still want to win games, as a person, as a competitor. I think we showed that.”
In the process, the Islanders nearly caused more problems for the Penguins.
With 1:43 gone by in the second period, Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby took a puck to the face on a clearing attempt from Dylan Reese and was down, bleeding on the ice, for 15 seconds. Crosby went to the dressing room, but returned to the bench eight minutes later and almost immediately reentered the game.
The Islanders are at .500 (33-33-11) on the season, and though they’re nine points out of the final playoff spot, with five games left, they are still mathematically alive.
“As a coaching staff, we are staying focused,” coach Jack Capuano said. “For the guys to get back to .500, it’s a credit to them.”
Once Marty Reasoner scored his first goal as an Islander 11:07 into the first period, the team never trailed. Pascal Dupuis tied it 1-1 with a shorthanded goal in the second, but Okposo scored two (one on the power play) and Bailey added a short-handed one to make it 4-1 with 15 minutes left to play in the game.
Jordan Staal scored with 12 minutes left to make it 4-2, then with the Penguins’ net empty and 1:31 remaining, Evgeni Malkin netted his 47th of the season on a wrist shot from the slot to make it 4-3.
Thirty seconds later, Bailey won a draw against Crosby, got the puck along the sideboards and slid one into the empty net to finish it off.
“It feels really good,” Bailey said.
The Islanders signed veteran goalie John Grahame for the final five games of the regular season, meaning Evgeni Nabokov’s groin injury could keep him out for the remainder of the year.