Nielsen scores twice as Isles cool off Pens
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Frans Nielsen had two goals and an assist and the New York Islanders dealt the Pittsburgh Penguins only their second regulation loss in 17 games, rolling to a 5-3 victory on Tuesday night.
The Islanders started their home-and-home against the Penguins by snapping a 13-game losing streak in the Steel City.
Michael Grabner, Kyle Okposo and David Ullstrom also scored for the Islanders while Evgeni Nabokov and Al Montoya combined to make 51 saves. Montoya played the third period after Nabokov was shaken up in the second.
"It was a good win for us," Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. "[Nabokov] made some great saves and Al came in in the third and really made some big saves for us."
James Neal scored twice and Tyler Kennedy had a goal, but the Penguins had a 10-game home winning streak snapped and fell further behind the New York Rangers for first place in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference.
Marc-Andre Fleury also came out after two periods -- he allowed five goals on 18 shots and took an elbow to the head from a teammate -- and Brad Thiessen made seven saves in the third for the Penguins.
Though it was only their second regulation loss in 17 games, both have come in the last three. The Penguins went more than a month without one before falling 8-4 in Ottawa on Saturday.
After the Rangers beat the Wild later Tuesday, Pittsburgh dropped three points back in the standings.
"We got what we deserved tonight," said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who has watched his team give up 20 goals in the last five games.
The home-and-home ends Thursday on Long Island.
Entering Tuesday, the Pens had beaten the Islanders in five straight meetings -- and 12 of the last 14 -- and hadn't lost to them in Pittsburgh since December 21, 2007, when they still played at Mellon Arena.
They are 14-2-1 in their last 17 games overall, allowing them to rap on the door for first place in the division with six games remaining.
Nabokov had 17 saves in the first period to keep the Penguins off the board, but gave up two goals in the first 4:10 of the second to tie the game.
He was halfway inside the net when Kennedy got a piece of Pascal Dupuis' shot from the right side and tipped it in between Nabokov's left pad and the post.
Neal then tied the game at 2-2, one-timing a Chris Kunitz cross-ice pass to beat Nabokov glove-side from the right circle, but the Islanders came back to take a 5-2 lead with three goals before the end of the period.
Okposo scored on a shot from the right circle after getting behind defenseman Zbynek Michalek on a rush and Ullstrom was left alone on a power play and hammered the puck in from the right side.
Later, Nielsen broke loose and scored easily into an open net after Fleury came out to challenge him and collided with defenseman Paul Martin outside the crease. Fleury caught a right elbow from his teammate and was slow to get up, then didn't come out for the third.
Late in the final period, Fleury was pulled to turn a 4-on-3 into a 5-on-3 and Neal scored on a one-timer from the right circle to draw the Penguins with 5-3 with 4:18 remaining, but that's as close as it got.
Fleury, who has shut out the Islanders twice this season, found himself out of position early in game when an Islanders shot from the left side hit off the end boards and kicked out to the right.
Nielsen was there, and slid the puck into the empty side of the net from the low right side to make it 1-0 just 3:12 into the game. Later, Grabner scored with just seconds remaining in the period on a long shot from the left side that squeaked through Fleury.
The Penguins were trying to match the longest home winning streak in franchise history set from January 5-March 7, 1991...Evgeni Malkin had two assists for the Penguins and has an NHL-best 99 points this season.
03/28 01:21:28 ET