Pens down Islanders

March 27, 2008 7:31:02 PM PDT
Jarkko Ruutu had a goal and two assists and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Islanders 3-1 on Thursday night in Sidney Crosby's first home game in more than two months.Georges Laraque had a goal and an assist and Evgeni Malkin also scored as the Penguins won their sixth consecutive home game and seventh of nine overall, extending their lead in the Atlantic Division to six points.

Josef Vasicek had the lone goal for the Islanders, who lost for the eighth time in 10 games.

Crosby, who had missed the previous seven games and 28 of the past 31 with a high ankle sprain, didn't score. He took three shots.

As expected, the reigning NHL scoring champion skated on a line with Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis - two players who weren't even on the team when Crosby was injured Jan. 18, in a game against Tampa Bay. Hossa and Dupuis were acquired from Atlanta minutes before the trade deadline last month for three players and a first-round draft pick.

In Crosby's place, Malkin established himself as a force and rose from 14th to second in the league scoring race. The second-year Russian scored the first goal 6:53 in when his wrist shot through traffic from the right faceoff circle went through the legs of Islanders goalie Wade Dubielewicz for Malkin's 45th goal of the season.

The Islanders tied it 10 minutes later when Vasicek finished a 3-on-3 break by flipping a shot that found its way underneath Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's arm and into the net for his 15th of the season.

Fleury has won each of his past six starts, allowing only seven goals in that time span.

Ruutu's goal came while short-handed with 4:38 to play in the second when a pass by New York's Richard Park was never corralled by Miroslav Satan and Ruutu collected it at his own blue line, skated down the left side, went around the net and banked the puck into the net between Dubielewicz's legs on the wraparound for his sixth of the season.

Ruutu scored for the third consecutive home game and fourth time in six games overall. His career-high three points gave him six in his past six games.

Hossa left the game with 16:23 to play after he was clipped with a blind check by the Islanders' Sean Bergenheim. Hossa, who previously had left the game briefly during the second after a hit on his knee, laid on the ice for few minutes. He did not return. The team classified it as an upper-body injury.

Hossa missed six of his first seven games with Pittsburgh due to a knee injury. This was the first game Hossa and Crosby both played for the Penguins.


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