It took a goal from an unlikely source, the stick of Georges Laraque, but the Penguins put an end to their losing slump, beating the Islanders 3-2 at home Thursday night. The evening began with ceremonies inducting Paul Coffey into the Penguins Hall of Fame, and it ended with Marc-Andre Fleury picking up his first win since October 23rd.
There was a little bit of a roster shakeup, with Mark Recchi and Daryl Sydor healthy scratches, and Tyler Kennedy and Kristopher Letang getting the call-up. Kennedy was sent down to Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins for a game, in which he had 2 assists, before getting the call. Letang was expected to make the NHL roster after training camp, but after a poor showing he was assigned to Wilkes Barre.
The Penguins gave up the first goal again, on a deflection by Mike Comrie. But Gonchar tied it up before the end of the 1st with a slapshot from the blueline that beat Isles tender Rick DiPietro who was screened by Jordan Staal.
Less than a minute into the 2nd period the Penguins took advantage of a two-man advantage. Evgeni Malkin put the puck on net, but it was Petr Sykora who shoved it passed DiPietro. Later in the 2nd the Islanders evened it up when Josef Vasicek settled down a shot from the point and maneuvered it around a sprawling Fleury.
The eventually game winner came when Sidney Crosby feed Georges Laraque in front of the net. Laraque lifted it high glove side for his first goal in a Penguins uniform. With the assist Crosby extended his scoring streak to 18 games, and Malkins 2 assist extended his streak to 11 games.
It was only a matter of time before Laraque came through big on the scoreboard. He might not be a considerable scoring threat, but his image as just a goon and a fighter is somewhat misguided. He can throw a big hit, but he also knows how to move the puck, and thus far this season he's been a vital part of a hardworking 4th line.
Marc-Andre Fleury ended his personal losing streak with his first win in 5 starts, turning aside 26 of 28 shots. Hopefully the win will instill some confidence in Fleury, who hasn't been able to hold it together for much longer an a few selected games.
The Penguins (8-10-1) will be in New York Saturday night to take on the Rangers (11-7-1). They've already met twice, splitting the series 1-1,