Blake's goal in ninth round of shootout saves Islanders

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Six, seven, eight shooters got the puck for
the New York Islanders in the NHL's longest shootout so far, and
still Jason Blake didn't get the call. When it comes to skating
1-on-1, he is the Islanders' last choice right now.

Blake, New York's ninth and final shooter of the extended
shootout, nearly lost the puck when he finally got his chance but
recovered to steer a shot past Jocelyn Thibault and give the
Islanders a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday

As Blake came down the slot, the puck fell off his stick
momentarily, but he got it back and beat Thibault by faking a
backhander only to slide the puck inside the near post.

"The last two games, the problem was I missed four breakaways,
so there was a little concern there with my confidence," Blake
said. "I mishandled the puck at the hash mark, but I got lucky and
he tried to pokecheck me and he missed it. I got lucky -- that's all
I can say."

Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro stopped the Penguins' final six
shooters, including Mark Recchi, Ziggy Palffy and John LeClair, to
give New York its second shootout victory in two attempts. The
Penguins lost the second of their three shootouts, even though
rookies Erik Christensen and Sidney Crosby kept the shootout going
by scoring after getting Pittsburgh's only goals in regulation.

Long before that, Alexei Yashin got his 300th career goal and
Shawn Bates got his third goal in two games as the Islanders
started a four-game road trip with a victory. Yashin failed to
score as the first Islanders shooter in the shootout, then waited --
and waited -- for the conclusion.

"I can wait forever as long as we win. It's a great win,
hopefully we'll get some confidence and it will carry over from
here," Yashin said.

The supposedly improved Penguins (5-8-6), who trailed 2-0 after
two periods, slipped deeper into last place in the Atlantic
Division despite getting a point and now have more overtime losses
(6) than victories (5).

For two periods, the Penguins looked as lifeless and
disinterested as they did in a 6-1 loss to the New York Rangers on
Saturday night, getting outshot 25-12 while repeatedly giving
little defensive help to Thibault.

But the Penguins finally showed some life after Crosby scored
his seventh goal, one-timing Christensen's pass to the slot past
DiPietro after Christensen intercepted Brent Sopel's pass from
behind his own net.

"We don't play good hockey until we get behind for whatever
reason," Mark Recchi said. "If we'd played like that early in
games, we wouldn't get into trouble."

The Penguins pressed the play after that, getting far more good
scoring chances in the third period than they did in the first two
periods combined. Christensen tied it at 18:42 with his second
career goal by taking Ric Jackman's soft pass in the right circle
and beating DiPietro with a hard wrist shot.

"I thought we played a great first two periods and not so well
in the third and they took it to us, but our goaltender played
great all night," Bates said of DiPietro, who made 26 saves.

The Penguins didn't help themselves by going 0-for-4 on the
power play. They are 2-for-35 with the man advantage in their last
six games. Since scoring a team record six power play goals Oct. 27
against Atlanta, the Penguins are 6-of-55 on the power play.

Yashin, moved back to center on Saturday after a brief trial at
left wing, got the game's first goal with a bad-angle shot from
along the goal line midway though the second. The Islanders kept
the puck in the Pittsburgh end for nearly 90 seconds -- even
changing lines while keeping the puck -- before Yashin beat Thibault
inside the far post.

Bates made it 2-0, escaping defenseman Brooks Orpik with an
excellent move in the right circle to skate to the slot and switch
from his backhand to his forehand to easily beat Thibault.

In the initial group of three shooters that begins a shootout,
Trent Hunter and Bates scored for the Islanders. After Bates
scored, Christensen -- playing only his eighth career game -- needed
to score to keep the shootout going.

Game notes
Previously, the Blue Jackets' 2-1 win over the Wild on Oct.
28 that went to five rounds was the longest shootout. ... The
Islanders have won three of four and are 52-0 with eight ties in
the last 60 games they've led after two periods. ... Yashin has
nine goals and Bates has six. ... Penguins D Sergei Gonchar sat out
with a strained groin and is listed as day-to-day. ... New York has
won consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 19-20 against
the Rangers. They beat the Boston Bruins 5-2 Saturday. ...
Pittsburgh has scored the first goal only four times in 19 games.
... Mario Lemieux hasn't scored on any of his three shootout
attempts. ... Two of the three games on Pittsburgh's homestand went
to a shootout. They beat Montreal 3-2 Thursday on Crosby's goal.