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Islanders deal Pens fourth straight defeat

12/8/2002

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Michael Peca, Brad Isbister and Arron Asham
are leading the New York Islanders' resurgence, despite being
linemates for just three games.

Peca scored his first two goals of the season and Isbister had a
goal and three assists Saturday night as New York beat the
Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 to stretch its winning streak to three
games.

"Chemistry is chemistry,'' said Isbister, who has seven points
in two games. "We know where each other is going to be, and the
puck seems to be bouncing our way.''

Peca, who missed all but 27 seconds of the Islanders' first 16
games after offseason knee and shoulder surgeries, hadn't scored a
regular-season goal since April 11. He also had an assist.

Asham added two assists, giving the line nine points. The trio
combined for six points in a 4-2 victory Friday over Toronto.

"It's just hard work, keeping it simple,'' Peca said. "We get
it in, work the puck down low and try to get it to the net. We've
had success with that.''

New York, still in last place in the Atlantic Division, has won
twice in Pittsburgh during a 6-2-0-2 surge that has the Islanders
just three points behind the Penguins. The Islanders are 4-0-1 in
their last five games in Pittsburgh.

Martin Straka had a goal and two assists for the Penguins, who
lost their season-high fourth straight game. Pittsburgh, which
played without right wing Alexei Kovalev (bruised tricep), has lost
three straight home games.

"We just made mistakes and shot ourselves in the foot,''
Pittsburgh defenseman Ian Moran said. "We've had more turnovers
and allowed more odd-man breaks. Odd-man breaks in this league turn
into goals.''

Asham and Isbister got the Islanders going by working the puck
free from the right-wing boards on their first shift. Peca found
the loose puck before tossing a backhander over Johan Hedberg's
shoulder just 1:10 into the first period.

After Pittsburgh defenseman Hans Jonsson tied it, Jason Wiemer
and Mario Lemieux traded first-period goals before the Islanders
broke open the game in the second period.

Peca was credited with his second goal at 7:50 of the second
period. A shot by Asham hit Peca in front of the Pittsburgh net and
slid to the bottom of the left circle, where Penguins' defenseman
Andrew Ference inadvertently whacked the puck into his net while
trying to clear it away from Hedberg.

Mark Parrish made it 4-2 at 14:25 of the second period when he
converted Isbister's 2-on-1 pass at the bottom of the right circle.
The Islanders' penalty killers played a crucial role in the second
period, killing off a pair of two-man advantages.

"We have to score on those in a game like this,'' forward Jan
Hrdina said of two-man advantages that lasted 38 seconds, and 1
minute, 11 seconds. "It would have been a different game if we
scored there.''

Isbister's ninth goal of the season at 10:30 of the third period
made it 5-2 before Straka scored his sixth at 11:35. Jason Blake
converted the rebound of Wiemer's breakaway at 18:08 of the third
period for his sixth goal.

"We played a pretty good defensive game, limiting their scoring
chances,'' New York coach Peter Laviolette said. "Our guys stuck
with the system, they worked hard at it and they generated offense
when they could.''

Lemieux scored his 13th goal of the season and has points in his
last 10 games (5-14-19).

Game notes
Hedberg has not won at home since beating Tampa Bay on Nov.
2. ... Lemieux has been kept off the scoresheet only three times in
his 25 games this season. ... Asham had two assists for the
Islanders. ... New York scratched tough-guy Eric Godard, called up
Friday for the Islanders' grudge match against Darcy Tucker and the
Toronto Maple Leafs. ... Snow made 19 saves to win just his second
game this season.