Blake scored twice for the Islanders in a 5-2 victory on Tuesday
night over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Blake was relieved to break a seven-game drought.
"I wasn't scoring and I got away from my game,'' he said. "The
coaches told me this morning to just keep shooting the puck.''
Mattias Timander, Alexei Yashin and Oleg Kvasha also scored for
the Islanders, who picked up two points on the Penguins and kept
pace with Montreal and Tampa Bay. The Islanders and Lightning are
tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern
Conference with 53 points, but the Islanders have two more wins
(23-21) and a game in hand on Tampa Bay.
"We know where Pittsburgh is in the standings,'' Islanders
forward Mark Parrish said. "We also know where Montreal and Tampa
Bay are, too. That's why Thursday night's game (home to Montreal)
Rick DiPietro, making his first start since his latest recall
and his third start of the season, turned aside 24 shots for his
Sebastien Caron stopped 24 shots for the Penguins, making the
biggest save of the scoreless first period when he made a rising
glove save while falling on Yashin's wrist shot.
Caron wasn't so lucky when the Islanders took a 1-0 lead at 3:06
of the second period. Blake's close-in wrist shot from the left
side hit off the goalie and barely bounced over the line before he
scooped it out. Video review confirmed the goal.
Timander made it 2-0 just 1:56 later, when his one-timer from
the high right side beat Caron to the short side.
Four straight penalties to the Islanders afforded the Penguins
with a potential 2:42 of two-man advantage time, and they
capitalized once to cut the lead in half.
McKenna picked up his seventh goal at 13:35 on a rebound at the
right crease of Dick Tarnstrom's shot.
"We had our chances,'' McKenna said. "If we get two, it could
have been a totally different outcome.''
Islanders coach Peter Laviolette said DiPietro was the key in
stopping six of seven total shots during the two disadvantages.
"Rick came up big for us there,'' Laviolette said. "We have to
Yashin picked up a power-play goal midway through the final
period when his left point slap shot deflected past Caron to give
New York a two-goal cushion.
But Robitaille responded back 50 seconds later with a rebound
Blake iced the game at 12:54 when he took a pass up the right
boards from Claude Lapointe and broke in alone on Caron. He faked a
backhand and beat him high to the left side.
Kvasha wrapped up the scoring when he sent a short side shot
past Caron at 15:46.
"We were very patient in the first period,'' Penguins forward
Alexei Kovalev said. "After that, they just outplayed us. They
played all 60 minutes tonight. We got caught on a lot of turnovers
at our blue line.''
The Penguins now trail New York and Tampa Bay by two points.
McKenna hoped that the loss didn't cost them in the long run.
"There are not going to be too many little games from here on
in,'' McKenna said. "Every point is now important.''
One area Pittsburgh totally dominated the game was on
faceoffs. The Penguins won an astounding 48 draws, while losing
just 27, including a 74 percent margin of victory in the offensive
zone (20-7). ... Pittsburgh is 0-8-1-1 on the road when trailing
after two periods. ... The Islanders recalled tough guy forward
Eric Goddard earlier in the day from their Bridgeport affiliate. He
was one of 13 forwards dressed, as the Islanders chose to skate
with only five defensemen, with injuries to Adrian Aucoin (groin)
and Eric Cairns (separated shoulder). ... Forward Brad Isbister was
a late scratch with a nagging ankle injury. Penguins owner/captain
Mario Lemieux sat out with a groin injury, sustained in
Pittsburgh's last visit to Long Island (Jan. 7). ... New York has
not lost consecutive regulation games since Nov. 29-30.