Series (Game 5 of 5)

New York leads 4-1

Game 1: Saturday, November 16th
Game 2: Saturday, December 7th
Game 3: Saturday, January 4th
Game 4: Tuesday, January 7th
Game 5: Tuesday, January 28th

Penguins 2

(21-21-5, 51 pts)

Islanders 5

(23-20-2, 53 pts)

7:00 PM ET, January 28, 2003

Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York

1 2 3 T
PIT 0 1 12
NYI 0 2 35

J. Blake (Islanders - LW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

R. DiPietro (Islanders - G): Saves: 24, Save Pct.: .923

M. Timander (Islanders - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 2

Blake fuels Islanders in rout of Penguins

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Jason Blake broke a personal slump and prevented the New York Islanders from going into one.

Jason Blake

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) is huge.''

Rick DiPietro, making his first start since his latest recall and his third start of the season, turned aside 24 shots for his second win.

Steve McKenna and Randy Robitaille scored for the Penguins.

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 be smarter.''

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 goal.

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.''

Game notes

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press