PITTSBURGH — John Tavares broke a tie with his 37th goal of the season early in the third period and the New York Islanders pulled away to beat the reeling Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 on Friday night.
Tavares beat Marc-Andre Fleury on a rebound 2:46 into the third and Michael Grabner added his eighth of the season with fewer than 4 minutes remaining to help the Islanders bolster their playoff position. New York can finish no worse than third in the Metropolitan Division. Jaroslav Halak made 37 saves for the Islanders.
Rob Scuderi scored his first goal in more than two years for Pittsburgh, but the Penguins failed to lock down a ninth straight postseason berth. Pittsburgh still has several ways it can make the playoffs, the only certain way coming with a victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
The Islanders can move into second place and earn home ice in the opening round of the postseason with a win Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets combined with a Washington Capitals loss to the New York Rangers.
Either way, the Islanders are moving on. That’s hardly a guarantee in Pittsburgh.
It’s a scenario that seemed far-fetched a month ago, but the Penguins are 3-9-2 in their last 14 games. Fleury, voted Pittsburgh’s MVP by his teammates earlier in the day, made 23 stops but the Penguins continued to struggle to score. Pittsburgh has 11 goals in its last seven home games.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images
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