UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Tyler Kennedy helped himself, new linemate Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Kennedy scored the winning goal and added two assists as Pittsburgh snapped a two-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
“(Jordan Staal) made a great play to the net,” Kennedy said. “I made a power move to the net. I just sat on the back side waiting for it, and it came right out to me.”
Sidney Crosby and Ryan Whitney also scored for Pittsburgh, which got 27 saves from Dany Sabourin.
Rick DiPietro stopped 37 shots for the Islanders. Richard Park and Josef Vasicek had goals for New York, 4-8-2 in its last 14 contests.
The Penguins, who raced to a 14-2 shots advantage, scored twice in a 3:47 span to grab a 2-0 lead in the first period. Crosby scored his 15th goal 2:48 in with lots of help from New York.
Islanders defenceman Marc-Andre Bergeron tried to wrap the puck around the net, but hit the side of the cage. He and DiPietro dove to play the puck, and the goalie tapped it over Kennedy, who passed it to a streaking Crosby for a wrist shot into the open net. The goal was Crosby’s first in eight games.
“It feels good,” Crosby said. “You never take anything for granted. When you don’t get one for a few games, you just keep working hard to create your chances, but it’s nice to get one like that.”
Whitney made it 2-0 at 6:35. After hitting the left post 10 seconds earlier, Whitney got the puck in the right circle and sent a wrist shot between the pads of a screened DiPietro.
New York’s struggles in the first period continued. In 31 games, the Islanders have scored in the opening frame in only 10 of them. They have an NHL-low 12 goals in first periods, scoring just five at home. The Islanders scored more than one in the first period once, opening night at Buffalo when they had three.
New York coach Ted Nolan, disappointed in his team several times during the Islanders’ recent slump, ripped into his players again after the first period.
“He told us to get our heads out of our (butts),” defenceman Brendan Witt said. “If we want to be in the playoffs, we can’t play like that.”
The Islanders looked like a different team at the start of the second, scoring twice in a 45-second span to tie the game.
Park, getting rare time on the power play, tapped in a rebound for his fifth goal at 4:57 to make it 2-1.
Vasicek finished a 2-on-1 break at 5:42 by taking Miroslav Satan’s cross-ice pass and tapping it past Sabourin. Vasicek leads the team with 10 goals.
Kennedy buried a rebound at the left crease during a power play to restore Pittsburgh’s lead at 14:16.
“I like the way this kid plays,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “I wanted to wait to put him with Crosby because I didn’t want him to get nervous. But then I decided to put them together on the second shift, and he was playing well.”
Witt was unhappy with the penalty that resulted in the goal. He felt that Crosby, his jousting partner during a scrum which sent two other players off, should also have been penalized.
“Crosby and I are shoving,” Witt said. “For him to come out of there with nothing, that doesn’t surprise me. It’s one of those things. He’s going to get a lot of calls that way.”
Nolan was equally upset.
“I still can’t understand how two guys have a little pushing match, and then two guys jump one of our guys and we end up in a short-handed situation,” Nolan said.
With the Islanders pressing for the tying goal, forward Chris Simon took a match penalty for trying to stomp on Jarkko Ruutu’s foot with just under six minutes left. New York had a few short-handed chances, including Mike Sillinger’s breakaway with 3:18 left, but the veteran forward missed put the puck over the net.
“It was a bad time for a penalty,” Nolan said. “To tell you the truth, I didn’t have the time to look at it and see the severity of it. We’ll look at it and probably make a comment on it (Sunday).”
Notes: Penguins D Brooks Orpik earned an assist in his 250th NHL game. … Pittsburgh recalled forward Connor James from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. … The Islanders haven’t won consecutive games since Nov. 16-19, when they beat the Rangers and the Devils on the road. … Nolan is 0-1 this season at home bench against the Penguins. He trails Al Arbour, who was credited with a coaching win in his 1,500th game behind the Islanders bench when New York beat Pittsburgh 3-2 on Nov. 3.