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Isles salvage win against slumping Pens

11/16/2002

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The New York Islanders have taken plenty of
hits so far this season, so they figured it was time to start doing
some hitting of their own.

Adrian Aucoin put the Islanders ahead late in the first period
on their only successful power play of the night and New York rode
Chris Osgood's goaltending to a 3-2 victory over the slumping
Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

Oleg Kvasha and Jason Wiemer scored at even strength as the
Islanders won for only the third time in 11 games despite going
1-for-8 on the power play, 0-for-5 in a scoreless second period.

"We needed to get a win and that was a good team to beat,''
defenseman Kenny Jonsson said. "We controlled the 5-on-5 real
well, and that's what we said we needed to control. We're way down
(in the standings) and we need every win we can take.''

The Islanders were more physical than any team has been this
season against Mario Lemieux, who scored his first goal in four
games but only the sixth by Pittsburgh during that span. The
Penguins are 0-3-1-1 since a 7-2-2 start.

Afterward, several Penguins criticized what they said was a
return by NHL referees to calling games as they long have, rather
than abiding by the league's much-publicized edict to enforce
obstruction rules.

"It was like a rodeo,'' defenseman Marc Bergevin said. "You
see what they're calling. They were calling it one way, now they're
calling it another way.''

Penguins defenseman Ian Moran said he predicted the enforcement
would last only until Thanksgiving but, he said, "I was wrong. It
didn't even make it until Halloween. The first 10 games of the
season were great. What should have been called was being called,
and it was a great product. Guys were flying.''

Lemieux said he couldn't comment, though, he said, "I wish I
could.''

The Islanders were off to their worst start -- 5-11-1 -- since the
1985-86 season, only to play a strong defensive game that overcame
their inability to capitalize with the man advantage.

"I thought our defensemen did a pretty good job of handling
them (Lemieux's line),'' Islanders coach Peter Laviolette said.
"They're a tough line. It's an incredible line.''

Osgood, who began the game with only a 4-8-1 career record
against Pittsburgh, turned aside 33 of 35 shots, allowing only
power-play goals to Alexei Kovalev and Lemieux.

"We had great chances, but he played great,'' Lemieux said.
"He made great saves in key situations.''

Despite their poor start, which came a year after they reached
the playoffs on the strength of an 11-3-2-1 early season record,
the Islanders held an unusually loose and relaxed practice Friday
in Pittsburgh following a 4-1 loss in Boston.

Maybe it was the news that team captain Michael Peca wouldn't
miss any playing time despite spraining a knee in Boston during his
first extended ice time since last season's playoffs. He played 7½
minutes, almost all of it in the first two periods.

Also, Laviolette held a meeting with some of his top players --
he called them his "upper-end players'' -- and they decided, he
said, "We needed to raise our level of play. What we did obviously
was not good enough, so we need to take it to the next step. We
need to raise the level.''

The Islanders began pressuring Penguins goalie Johan Hedberg
early and finally got the opening goal at 7:24, Kvasha's first of
the season. Alexei Yashin dug the puck out from along the boards
after Pittsburgh couldn't get it out of its own zone and found
Kvasha breaking down the slot.

Kovalev tied it about 3 minutes later on a 5-on-3 power play
with a slap shot from short range in the lower right circle that
Osgood had no chance to play.

Aucoin gave the lead back to the Islanders late in the period
with a slap shot from just inside the blue line during a power
play. Penguins forward Steve McKenna was off for unsportsmanlike
conduct for going after the Islanders' Steve Webb, who had taken
defenseman Michal Rozsival out with a hard hit along the rear
boards. Rozsival didn't return because of an apparent shoulder
injury and may miss some playing time.

Aucoin's goal held up until Dave Scatchard found Jason Wiemer
skating down the slot for Wiemer's second of the season, making it
3-1 six minutes into the third period.

Game notes
The Islanders won for only the second time on the road
(2-4-1). ... New York is 3-1 in its last four in Pittsburgh. ...
Pittsburgh lost for the first time in its last seven home games,
with one tie.