Pens fall in Murray’s return
Crosby’s 13-game point streak snapped
NEW YORK — Mathew Barzal and Adam Pelech scored in the first period and the New York Islanders went on to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-1, on Tuesday night.
Anders Lee had a goal in the third period and Jordan Eberle added an empty-netter to help the Islanders snap a three-game skid with just their second win in 13 games (2-7-4).
Christopher Gibson, pulled in his last start after giving up five goals on 12 shots against Washington last Thursday, stopped 36 shots and has both wins for New York in its recent stretch.
Conor Sheary scored for Pittsburgh, which was 5-1-1 in its previous seven but fell four points behind first-place Washington in the tight Metropolitan Division. Columbus pulled into a tie with the Penguins for second at 87 points — Pittsburgh holds the tiebreaker over the Blue Jackets.
Matt Murray, returning after missing nine games due to a concussion, finished with 36 saves for the Penguins.
Pittsburgh, playing for the first time since winning at Montreal last Thursday, came in with the NHL’s best power play at 25.8 percent and went 0 for 1 against the Islanders — last in penalty-killing at 74.9 percent.
New York, which will likely miss the postseason for the second straight year, led 2-0 after one period and outworked the Penguins for much of the second before the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions picked up the pressure.
Sheary got Pittsburgh on the scoreboard as he took a pass across the slot from Phil Kessel and one-timed it past Gibson from the right circle for his 15th with 2:46 to go in the middle period. It came on the Penguins’ 26th shot on goal.
Lee got a pass from Barzal and put it past Murray from the left side for his career-high 36th at 5:41 of the third to make it 3-1. Barzal’s assist was his 55th, tying him with Nicklas Backstrom (2007-08) for the second-most by a rookie since 1995. Penguins star Sidney Crosby tops the list with 63 in 2005-06.
Murray made a nice stop against Andrew Ladd on an Islanders rush to keep it a two-goal game with 4 1/2 minutes to go.
Eberle capped the scoring with his empty-net goal, his 25th, two minutes later.
Barzal got the Islanders on the board 5:10 into the game as he tipped a hard shot from the top of the right circle by Johnny Boychuk past Murray for his 20th.
Riley Sheahan had a chance to tie it for the Penguins a little more than a minute later when he got the puck after Barzal fell down by his blue line. Sheahan skated in on Gibson, but the goalie denied his attempt from the left side.
Pelech made it 2-0 with 9:27 left in the opening period as he got a pass from Tanner Fritz and fired it past Murray from straightaway for his third.
Gibson also had a nice stop on Carl Hagelin from between the circles with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the first to keep the Penguins off the scoreboard.
Game notes: Crosby’s 13-game point streak against the Islanders was snapped. He had nine goals and 14 assists against them during that stretch. … Sheary got his third goal since Jan. 20, including two at Philadelphia on March 7. … Pittsburgh fell short of its first season sweep against the Islanders. The Penguins won the first three meetings, including two in overtime. … Islanders D Thomas Hickey played in his 400th career game. … New York D Nick Leddy celebrated his 27th birthday.
On the ice
Tonight: Montreal Canadiens at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m.
Records: Canadiens (26-35-12-64); Penguins (41-27-6-87)
TV: AT&T SportsNet