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Crosby's OT goal lifts Pens over Isles

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The last thing the Pittsburgh Penguins wanted
was to go to another shootout with the New York Islanders.

So Sidney Crosby made sure that didn't happen.

The star rookie scored with 1:32 to play in overtime to give the
Penguins a 4-3 victory over New York on Friday night. The Islanders
had won the last three meetings between the teams -- each in a
shootout.

"I was thinking that in the third period: 'We've gone to OT
every time and a shootout every time with these guys," Pittsburgh
forward Colby Armstrong said. "In OT, we got a break. The one guy
that you want in a 2-on-1 has the puck and he made it happen and he
put it in the net. Winning in OT is a pretty good feeling."

Crosby, who earlier hit the post with Islanders goalie Rick
DiPietro out of the net less than a minute into overtime, collected
the puck in his own end and led a 2-on-1 break with Armstrong
against New York defenseman Radek Martinek.

Crosby's wrister from just inside the left-wing circle beat
DiPietro on the short side for the 18-year-old star's 32nd goal of
the season.

"I just tried to throw it at the net," Crosby said. "He's an
aggressive goalie and I think he fell after he tried to get it.

"You leave it up to a few guys (in a shootout) instead of
having your whole team contribute to that. I think it's nice when
you get it done in regulation; overtime is pushing it, but we'll
take any two points we can get."

The Penguins have won four of their past seven. Crosby, who
earned his 46th assist earlier in the game, is second among NHL
rookies with 78 points, first in assists and tied with Colorado's
Marek Svatos for second in goals.

"I thought we gave him too much time," Islanders coach Brad
Shaw said. "We try to preach to our defensemen to play the strong
side post and give the goalie the shot but not from that angle.
That's a tough shot from that angle for any goalie, especially when
it is a guy like Sidney Crosby who knows how to put the puck in the
net."

Ryan Malone, Andy Hilbert and Sergei Gonchar also scored for
Pittsburgh. Jason Blake, Trent Hunter and Sean Bergenheim scored
for New York.

The Islanders, who led 3-1, have lost three of their last four
games and sit seven points behind Atlanta for the eighth and final
playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings. With Florida's
3-2 shootout win over the New York Rangers, the Islanders' 69
points but them two behind the Panthers for 10th place with 13
games to play.

"I think we recognize we need close to 90 points to have a
chance," Shaw said. "Not getting two points tonight hurts, but
it's not devastating."

Malone opened the scoring on a spectacular short-handed goal.
Malone picked up a loose puck near his own net and skated the
entire length of the ice -- deking the Islanders' Denis Grebeshkov
in the process -- on the way to a breakaway.

Malone fell down by his own, but was still able to flick a wrist
shot through DiPietro's legs while sliding on his side toward the
net. Malone has 18 goals.

That goal came at 2:20 of the first period, but the Islanders'
tied the game 80 seconds later on a goal by Hunter, his 14th.

New York carried a 2-1 lead into the first intermission on
Blake's 25th goal. Blake's wrist shot from the slot through traffic
came off a pass from Robert Nilsson in the right circle. Nilsson
has had an assist in three consecutive games.

The Islanders outshot the Penguins 14-4 in the first period and
hald a 4-0 advantage in power plays -- but did not convert any of
the man-advantages.

"Our penalty killing guys did a very good job tonight,"
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said.

Bergenheim put the Islanders ahead 3-1 a little over a minute
into the second when he scored for the second game in a row by
blasting a slap shot off a feed from Mike York that beat Fleury on
the glove side.

But Hilbert cut it to 3-2 midway through the second period with
a power-play goal off a pass from Crosby.

"Once the momentum changed," New York center Alexei Yashin
said, "we couldn't recover."

Gonchar tied the game less than three minutes later, and the
Penguins outshot the Islanders 12-4 in the third period.

"I know we blew a two-goal lead," DiPietro said. "But if go
into the third period tied on the road -- no matter who you're
playing against -- you feel all right. We had a chance to win it at
the end and just didn't do it."

Game notes
The Penguins had not beaten New York at Mellon Arena since
a 3-2 overtime win Jan. 4, 2003. ... Penguins defenseman Eric
Cairns sat out the game serving the first game of a three-game
suspension for spearing Zdeno Chara in Ottawa on Tuesday night. ...
Defenseman Noah Welch made his NHL debut for Pittsburgh and
assisted on Gonchar's goal.