Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Sidney Crosby's goal with 1:16 remaining lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins to their third straight win, a 4-3 decision over the New York Islanders at CONSOL Energy Center.
Chris Kunitz helped set up Crosby's game-winner after potting a pair of power- play goals in the first period, while Evgeni Malkin halted a career-long stretch of 15 straight games without a goal by scoring once and assisting on another for the Metropolitan Division-leading Penguins.
Crosby added an assist as well in support of a 32-save effort between the pipes from Jeff Zatkoff.
Thomas Vanek returned from an upper-body injury to record two goals in the loss, the Islanders' sixth straight on the road in regulation, with Kevin Poulin finishing with 30 saves.
The teams had battled to a 3-3 deadlock through two periods, and the score remained that way deep into the third until the Penguins came up with the clincher.
Kunitz chipped the puck into the Islanders' zone and then beat defenseman Radek Martinek to it before sending the disc over to teammate Pascal Dupuis, who alertly fired a pass from behind the New York net to an uncovered Crosby for a shot in which Poulin had little chance to defend.
Poulin had kept it tied moments earlier, stoning Malkin on a breakaway with just over five minutes to go in regulation.
"He made the saves that he had to," Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said of Poulin. "He gave us a chance to win, but unfortunately we left a guy alone in front of the net with 1:16 to go."
Kunitz was the unquestioned star of the opening period, accounting for the frame's lone two goals and also tallying a third that was negated by a Pittsburgh penalty.
The Penguins capitalized on an early New York infraction to gain the upper hand, as Kunitz tapped in Crosby's centering pass while left open on the left side of the Islanders' net just 4:04 into the contest.
Kunitz struck again less than four minutes later on another Pittsburgh power play to extend the margin to 2-0. Malkin knocked New York's Frans Nielsen off the puck to begin a Penguins' rush that ended when Kunitz rocketed a shot past Poulin after taking a feed from James Neal in transition.
A natural hat trick for Kunitz was denied when Malkin was sent off for a high stick just as his linemate scored once more 1:10 prior to the first intermission.
The Islanders came out strong after the break, however, and cut the deficit to 2-1 when Vanek one-timed a quick pass from Kyle Okposo home while stationed in the right slot with 1:46 elapsed in the second period.
Malkin restored Pittsburgh's two-goal advantage not long afterward, though, finishing off a well-executed give-and-go with Neal by sliding the puck under Poulin's pads for the star forward's first marker since Oct. 17.
"We were really happy for [Malkin]," Crosby said. "He had a ton of chances the last little while and we knew it was a matter of time."
New York then lit the lamp twice within a span of 81 seconds later in the session to draw even.
Colin McDonald whipped a wrister by Zatkoff with 8:27 left in the second to get the Islanders within one, and Vanek knocked in a puck thrown in front of the net by Okposo with Zatkoff out of position to forge a 3-3 tie.
The goal was the 250th of Crosby's career, and he has now notched one in three straight games after scoring just once over Pittsburgh's previous 10 outings ... Vanek had missed New York's last five games after exiting a Nov. 9 matchup at Columbus in the opening minute with the injury ... Malkin has compiled an NHL-best 13 assists in November and the Penguins moved to 7-0-0 this season when he totals two or more points ... The Islanders went 0-for-6 on the power play, giving Pittsburgh successful kills in 30-of-31 shorthanded situations over an 11-game span ... New York fell to 2-10-2 when allowing at least one power-play goal ... The Islanders have lost in 16 of their last 19 regular-season visits to Pittsburgh, though they did record a 4-3 decision in the Steel City back on Oct. 25.