PITTSBURGH -- After fumbling away leads through the first weeks of the season, the New York Islanders found a way to rally for a victory Friday night.
Josh Bailey capped a frantic final few minutes by scoring with 1:40 left in regulation to give the Islanders a 4-3 comeback win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center.
Bailey slid his fourth goal of the season past rookie goaltender Jeff Zatkoff after a pass from Frans Nielsen to break a 3-3 tie and cap a spurt of four goals -- three by New York -- in just over 5 1/2 minutes.
"I think I'd be a little disappointed right now if we didn't find a way to get one in," Bailey said. "[Nielsen] made a good pass and I found a way to put it in. It was exciting."
The Islanders (4-3-3) have seen two third-period leads turn into shootout losses and couldn't hold an early 2-0 lead in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. But in the first meeting between the teams since the Penguins eliminated New York in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring, the Islanders twice overcame deficits in the third period.
The Penguins led 2-1 before Nielsen deflected Thomas Hickey's shot-pass behind Zatkoff at 12:46 to tie the game. But the deadlock lasted all of 16 seconds before Joe Vitale zipped a pass through the crease to Deryk Engelland, who tipped the puck past Evgeni Nabokov to put the Penguins back in front.
Pittsburgh's lead lasted for 53 seconds. Radek Martinek, signed by the Islanders this week after injuries to their defense, not only kept the puck in at the left point but found Pierre-Marc Bouchard alone in the slot. Bouchard deked Zatkoff and poked the puck through his five-hole with 6:05 remaining to tie the game. It was the first goal of the season for Bouchard, who signed with the Islanders as a free agent during the summer.
"We hung around and after two we talked about it. We're right there," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We're fortunate to get a good bounce and tie it up, get the lead back and we continued to work hard.
"We can play better and be more disciplined. But to come in this building and play the way we played, it wasn't bad."
Nabokov finished with 39 saves as the Penguins (7-3-0) outshot New York 42-25. Zatkoff, playing for the second time this season as coach Dan Bylsma rested starter Marc-Andre Fleury before a road game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, stopped 21 shots.
Sidney Crosby's eighth goal of the season gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead 5:59 into the second period. Islanders defenseman Matt Donovan fanned on a shot near the left point and Chris Kunitz sent Crosby down the right boards before joining him on a 2-on-1 against Matt Carkner. Crosby held onto the puck and fired a shot past Nabokov's blocker for his eighth goal of the season.
Crosby has scored at least one point in nine of the Penguins' 10 games. He leads the NHL with 18 points and has scored 76 against the Islanders in his career - his most against any opponent.
But that was the only one of Pittsburgh's 20 second-period shots to beat Nabokov, who rebounded from a shaky performance in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.
"They got three chances. That's what it came down to," Crosby said. "We had some good opportunities too, to build on our lead, but didn't. We made some mistakes and they made us pay."
Crosby had an opportunity to increase Pittsburgh's lead when he went in on a breakaway just over five minutes into the third period, but Nabokov robbed him to keep the Islanders within a goal.
"[Crosby] is coming and with his type of skill, you just, on a breakaway, try to keep the gaps tight and try to go where he's going to go," Nabokov said. "I tried to poke-check him and keep the stick on the ice and I think that's what saved me. I kept the stick on the ice and he tried to go five-hole after that and the stick was in the right place."
The Islanders won the battle of special teams, scoring on their only power play and holding the Penguins scoreless on five chances. The Penguins, who were 0-for-7 in a 1-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday, were bolstered by the return of All-Star defenseman Kris Letang but couldn't score with the extra man.
"Where we let this one go on the mistakes we made, we played a 42-shot game," Bylsma said. "[We were] in control a lot of this game, but made some mistakes in the third that allowed them to get goals and to get back in it and win it."
The Islanders opened the scoring midway through the first period with Matt Niskanen off for hooking. Nielsen deflected John Tavares' shot into Zatkoff's chest, but Zatkoff couldn't hold the puck and it ricocheted to Matt Moulson, who backhanded it into the net for his sixth goal of the season and fifth on the power play.
It was the first power-play goal the Penguins allowed at home since March 26 of last season - a stretch of 14 games. Pittsburgh killed 37 power plays during that span.
Jussi Jokinen tied the game 3:10 later. Brandon Sutter carried the puck down the left side and drew coverage before firing a shot that hit Nabokov in the chest and caromed away. Jokinen swatted the puck out of midair and behind Nabokov for his fifth goal of the season.
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