UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Sidney Crosby left briefly in the second period after being bloodied when he was struck in the face with the puck, and the suddenly slumping Pittsburgh Penguins fell again to the New York Islanders, 5-3 on Thursday night.
Crosby, playing in the ninth game of his second comeback of the season after recovering from concussion symptoms, was injured 1:43 into the second period. Islanders defenceman Dylan Reese was trying to clear the puck out of the lower left corner in the New York end when he hit Crosby, who was standing a few feet away.
Crosby stayed down on his stomach for about a minute before gathering himself and getting back up on his skates. He then skated off toward the tunnel leading to the dressing room. He returned to the bench with 10:13 left in the period, and was back on the ice moments later.
The Islanders, who began the night in 13th place in the 15-team Eastern Conference, dealt Pittsburgh another big blow as the Penguins try to catch the New York Rangers atop the East. The Islanders knocked off the Penguins in Pittsburgh 5-3 on Tuesday night and completed the home-and-home sweep Thursday.
Pittsburgh trails the Rangers by five points with five games remaining.
Josh Bailey had two goals and three assists for New York, Kyle Okposo also scored twice, and Marty Reasoner added a goal. Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Pascal Dupuis scored for Pittsburgh.
BLACKHAWKS 4, BLUES 3, SO
CHICAGO (AP)—Dave Bolland scored the only goal in a four-round shootout and Chicago beat NHL-leading St. Louis to move closer to clinching a playoff berth.
The Blackhawks needed a victory and for Phoenix to lose to San Jose in regulation later Thursday night to clinch their fourth straight trip to the post-season. But they’ll have to wait another day because the Coyotes beat the Sharks. The Blues could have clinched the Central Division title with a victory.
St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak, starting after the Blues’ other goalie, Brian Elliott, had posted three straight shutouts, made 37 saves. Corey Crawford stopped 17 shots for Chicago.
Kris Russell’s long slap shot through traffic was tipped in by David Perron with 1:32 left in regulation to tie the game, rallying the Blues after Chicago had taken a 3-1 lead early in the final period.
Bryan Bickell, Andrew Brunette and Patrick Sharp scored in regulation for Chicago. Alexander Steen and Jason Arnott added goals for St. Louis.
COYOTES 2, SHARKS 0
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP)—Radim Vrbata scored twice and Mike Smith had 37 saves to shut out San Jose for the third time this season, leading Phoenix Coyotes to a critical victory.
Vrbata, who missed the previous two games because of a bad reaction to penicillin, had a power-play goal in the second period, then scored 8:17 into the third period on a slick pass from Ray Whitney. Whitney had two assists to reach 999 career points.
The Coyotes rose from ninth to seventh in the Western Conference, while San Jose fell from a tie for seventh to ninth behind idle Los Angeles. Phoenix and Pacific Division leader Dallas both have 89 points, but the Stars have played one fewer game.
CAPITALS 3, BRUINS 2 SO
BOSTON (AP)—Brooks Laich scored in the fourth round of a shootout to lift Washington past Boston and help the Capitals keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Washington is tied with Buffalo with 86 points in pursuit of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The Sabres remain ahead because they have five games remaining and the Capitals have four.
The Bruins could have clinched a playoff berth with a win. The defending Stanley Cup champions will try again when they play the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Marcus Johansson had a goal and an assist on Dennis Wideman’s goal in a 1:55 span midway through the third period to give Washington a 2-0 lead. But the Bruins tied it in the final 3:10 on goals by David Krejci and Andrew Ference. Tim Thomas made 21 saves for the Bruins. Michal Neuvirth stopped 19 shots after coming in at the end of the first period when Tomas Vokoun left with an apparent injury.
DEVILS 6, LIGHTNING 4
NEWARK, N.J. (AP)—Ilya Kovalchuk and Marek Zidlicky scored in a 1:11 span to cap a four-goal second period and New Jersey put itself on the doorstep of a playoff berth with a victory over Tampa Bay.
Dainius Zubrus, Jacob Josefson, Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson also scored as New Jersey matched its season high for goals and overcame a hat trick by Ryan Malone.
The Devils can return to the playoff for the 14th time in 15 seasons by earning one more point in their final four games or having Washington fail to earn a point.
Sebastien Caron also scored for Tampa Bay.
FLYERS 7, MAPLE LEAFS 1
TORONTO (AP)—Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds each scored twice and Philadelphia routed Toronto, handing the Maple Leafs their 11th straight home loss.
Matt Read, Eric Wellwood and Jakub Voracek also scored for Philadelphia, Danny Briere had four assists, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 16 saves. Mikhail Grabovski scored for Toronto.
Injuries have played a role in Toronto’s struggles and popped up again when starting goalie Jonas Gustavsson took a shot off his left knee in warmups and had to be helped to the dressing room.
That left Jussi Rynnas to make his first NHL start. An emergency AHL callup because of James Reimer’s upper-body injury, Rynnas stopped 23 shots.
WILD 3, PANTHERS 2, OT
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP)—Mikko Koivu split two defenders and beat former teammate Jose Theodore 15 seconds into overtime to lift Minnesota past Florida.
Erik Christensen tied it for Minnesota with 31 seconds left in regulation.
Kyle Brodziak also scored for the Wild.
The Panthers, inching toward their first Atlantic Division title, are four points ahead of Washington Capitals with a game in hand and five to play. Tomas Fleischmann had a goal and an assist for Florida, Scottie Upshall also scored, and Brian Campbell had two assists.