UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Anders Lee scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period, Jaroslav Halak made 27 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Saturday night to sweep a home-and-home series.
Lee’s third goal of the season at 2:38 came on a tip-in of Lubomir Visnovsky’s slap shot that got past backup goalie Thomas Greiss. Brock Nelson added a power-play goal at 9:47 — his team-leading 10th tally — and Islanders captain John Tavares closed the scoring with his eighth at 15:46.
New York had tied it 1-1 in the second period on a goal by Matt Martin.
The Islanders and Penguins — intense rivals since they met in the 2013 playoffs — played to a 5-4 shootout victory by New York on Friday.
The resurgent Islanders (14-6), who finished last in the Metropolitan Division last season, won for the eighth time in nine games. Halak has won his last six starts, allowing just eight goals.
New York tied Pittsburgh atop the division with 28 points, though the Penguins (13-4-2) have played one fewer game.
Fans at Nassau Coliseum chanted “First place, first place” in the closing minutes. The Islanders are off to their best start since the 1987-88 season.
The Penguins had won seven of eight on Long Island.
Evgeni Malkin gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead with his eighth goal 16:49 in when his shot was stopped by Halak but dribbled into the net. Malkin’s new linemates — Patrick Hornqvist and Nick Spaling — assisted. Both were acquired in a trade with Nashville last summer.
Martin second goal of the season and second in two nights came as the Islanders’ fourth line continued to contribute strong minutes. Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck had assists on the goal at 18:01 of the second.
The 25-year-old Martin played in his 300th NHL game.
Saturday’s rematch had less offense but was spirited and hard-hitting. Steve Downie fought Travis Hamonic of the Islanders at 15:24 of the first.
In the second, the teams traded chances and had multiple crease skirmishes. The Islanders held a 22-16 shots advantage.
NOTES: The Islanders honored Hall of Fame goalie Billy Smith before the game. Smith was an original Islander and played on all four Stanley Cup-winning teams from 1980-83. … Forward Craig Adams played in his 900th NHL game for the Penguins. … The Islanders are 12-1 when they score at least three goals (including shootout winners).
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