PITTSBURGH — Frans Nielsen scored twice and Josh Bailey had three assists as the lowly New York Islanders earned a rare win in Pittsburgh, defeating the Penguins 5-3 on Tuesday night at the Consol Energy Center.
Michael Grabner, David Ullstrom and Kyle Okposo also scored for the Islanders who ended Pittsburgh’s 10-game home winning streak.
Pittsburgh trailed 2-0 after one period but got goals from James Neal and Tyler Kennedy in a 4:10 span to open the second period, jumping back into the game and appearing set to take over the game.
The Islanders though were the ones to break the game open in the period, as Okposo, Ullstrom and Nielsen scored within a six minute span, taking a 5-2 lead into the third period.
Penguins Goaltender Marc Andre Fleury did not come out for the third period after giving up 5 goals on 18 shots. Fleury was banged up in the second period, taking a shot off the shoulder, then having Paul Martin slam into him on Nielsen’s breakaway goal with a 1:52 left in the period. Brad Thiessen made 7 saves in relief for Fleury in the third period.
“We did not pull him for health reasons, ” Bylsma said on Fleury being pulled.
For Pittsburgh, James Neal (36, 37) scored twice, netting goals 36 and 37 on the season. Neal who had a team-high 12 shots on goal and attempted 17 shots, collected his 16th power play goal of the season (tied for 1st in NHL) with a power play marker at 15:42 of the third period.
Tyler Kennedy (10) added a goal, giving him 4 goals in his last 5 games. Pascal Dupuis assisted on Kennedy’s goal, extending his points streak to a career best 11 games. Brian Strait earned his first career point on Kennedy’s goal.
Evgeni Malkin had two assists in the loss, collecting points 98 and 99 on the season.
Sidney Crosby who came into the game with 66 points in 34 career games against Islanders, was held pointless tonight but was strong in the faceoff circle, winning 15 of 21 draws.
Pittsburgh outshot New York, 54-25, and the Islanders got excellent goaltending. Evgeni Nabokov made 32 saves on 30 shots, but like Fleury, Nabokov did not return for the third period, leaving the game with a lower-body injury.
Pittsburgh fell to 47-23-6 on the season
NOTES: Tonight was the Penguins first lost to the Islanders at home since December 21, 2007…….Pittsburgh came into tonight’s game 18-2-2 in their last 22 games against New York……The Penguins outshot the Islanders 22-7 in the third……..Jordan Staal had a season high 8 shots on goal…..