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Malkin, Kunitz, Fleury lead Penguins past Islanders, 3-1

PITTSBURGH - Luckily for the Pittsburgh Penguins on a night they were outplayed by the New York Islanders for some lengthy stretches, Evgeni Malkin knows what to do when the puck finds his stick.

Malkin took advantage of a couple of favourable bounces to score a goal and set up one of Chris Kunitz's two goals and the Penguins bounced back from a pair of road losses to beat the slumping Islanders 3-1 on Wednesday night.

With Kunitz scoring his first two goals since Dec. 29, the Penguins shook off a 5-4 loss Sunday to Washington in which they couldn't hold a 4-1 lead to win their seventh in a row at home against the Islanders.

New York lost its eighth in nine games as Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 37 of 38 shots - even though it was defenceman Kris Letang who made the save of the night.

With Fleury occupied at the other side of the net, Letang sprawled along the crease to stop Matt Moulson's shot in the first period. Right about then, the Islanders probably knew what kind of night it would be.

"What I liked was a lot of pucks were hitting him (Fleury) in the chest and that means he was being aggressive. He didn't have to make a lot of spectacular saves," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.

Bylsma also must have liked how the puck was hopping off Malkin's stick.

"It's tough. When you have guys like (Sidney) Crosby and Malkin on the ice, those guys make things happen," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "It's pretty consistent with every shift they have. That's where their team is at now, and that's where we aspire to be."

Malkin, one of five Penguins players headed to the Olympics, repeatedly showed off some fancy stickwork - and, for a brief moment, it looked as if he might fight defenceman Freddy Meyer on a play in which both were sent off for roughing.

Late in the first period, Malkin bounced the puck off the end of his stick yo-yo-like as he tried to keep his balance while skating toward the net and managed to get off a shot, although it didn't go in. Malkin had better luck in the second period.

Malkin, who scored three goals during the Penguins' 6-4 win over the Islanders on Jan. 19, skated down the left wing boards near the midpoint of the period and threw the puck toward the middle of the ice 10 seconds after Pittsburgh killed off an Islanders power play.

Defenceman Mark Streit got his stuck on it, but the puck deflected to Kunitz for his seventh goal. Kunitz played his second game after missing 15 games with an abdominal injury.

"It was a turning point in the game," Bylsma said.

Later in the period, Malkin won a faceoff in the Islanders' zone that led to a Sergei Gonchar shot - though it may have been a pass in disguise - that was redirected by Malkin past Dwayne Roloson for his 21st goal.

Seconds before that faceoff, Roloson seemed willing to drop the gloves on a night when there were two fights and nearly a couple of more.

Roloson apparently wanted to take on forward Mike Rupp but slipped coming out of the net and lost his balance. Fleury began skating toward the other end in case Roloson was intent on fighting, but nothing occurred.

"I stayed at the blue line, and it kind of stopped," Fleury said.

The Islanders, who beat Nashville 4-3 on Tuesday, cut it to 2-1 at 9:38 of the third when Frans Nielsen put a backhander past Fleury off Bruno Gervais' backhand pass. Except for that goal, Fleury was strong throughout after giving up 13 goals in his previous three starts, including a 5-3 loss Saturday at Montreal.

"It's a shame because we had a lot of steam today and were playing well and generating a lot and it seems it's a wasted effort again," Islanders captain Doug Weight said.

Kunitz got the goal back about five minutes later by beating Roloson on a wrist shot from the low slot set up by Bill Guerin. Kunitz hadn't had a two-goal game since March 15 against Boston.

NOTES: The Penguins sold all tickets for their 147th consecutive sellout, but the actual turnout on a snowy night was approximately 13,500. ... Islanders No. 1 draft choice John Tavares doesn't have a goal in 12 games. ... Fleury is 5-0-1 in his last six against the Islanders. ... New York was 0 for 3 on the power play and Pittsburgh was 0 for 1. ... Fleury's last shutout was March 25.


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