By Dan Scifo
January 2, 2016
A rebound comes off New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) in front of Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) who puts it behind him for a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Sidney Crosby is looking like himself again, Marc-Andre Fleury is back from injury and the Pittsburgh Penguins are gaining momentum after a lackluster start.
The resurgent Crosby scored two power-play goals, Fleury returned from a concussion and made 38 saves and the Penguins beat the New York Islanders5-2 on Saturday night.
''It's always nice when the puck goes in,'' Crosby said. ''I think with the way we're playing, we're earning our bounces and earning our goals. Hopefully, there's more to come.''
Crosby scored his 10th and 11th goals of the season and has 10 points in his last seven games. After scoring just six goals in his first 32 games, Crosby has five scores in his last five contests.
Fleury made his first start since Dec. 14. The Penguins won just three of eight games without him.
Pittsburgh has won four of six after dropping its first four games under new coach Mike Sullivan. The Penguins, who rank near the bottom of the league with 2.3 goals per game, have scored five goals in back-to-back games and three of their last six.
''Two games with five goals is nice,'' Crosby said. ''It feels good to have a couple games like that.''
Crosby and the Penguins' stars have led the way.
Evgeni Malkin had three assists and has seven points over his last three games. Kris Letang also had three assists and has six points over his last two games.Phil Kessel scored his 12th of the season, Patric Hornqvist his eighth and Matt Cullen added a short-handed goal and an assist.
''I'm thrilled for (the top players) that they're getting rewarded for their efforts,'' Sullivan said. ''To their credit, they're playing hard and buying in.''
John Tavares got his 15th goal and Nick Leddy also scored for New York after the Penguins built a 5-0 lead.
''They came out with some good jump and got an early goal,'' Tavares said. ''But special teams hurt us and I thought that's what really tilted the game.''
Pittsburgh scored two power-play goals against the Islanders, who killed a franchise-record 42 straight penalties before allowing one against Buffalo on Thursday night. The Penguins remain in the bottom half of the league with the man advantage thanks to a slow start, but they are heating up with nine power-play goals in their last seven games.
The Islanders had won three of four. They won the final four meetings against Pittsburgh last season and were unbeaten in regulation against Metropolitan Division opponents entering Saturday.
''It's a big two points for us,'' Fleury said. ''We have a long way to go, but it's always nice to get two points.''
Islanders' goaltender Thomas Greiss got the start against his former team, making 22 saves on 26 shots before he was pulled in the second period. Christopher Gibson made 16 saves in his NHL debut.
Greiss started for Jaroslav Halak, who missed his fourth game with an upper-body injury. Greiss won nine times in 18 starts in 2014-15, his only season with the Penguins. This season he has 11 wins in 19 appearances.
''He's the hardest working guy that we have,'' Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. ''We weren't giving him any help. We have a lot of hockey left. He's going to be right back in for us.''
Kessel put Pittsburgh ahead 3:34 into the game, converting Cullen's behind-the-net feed from the slot.
Crosby got his first goal later in the period. He chipped the rebound from Malkin's point shot over the outstretched pad of Greiss. It was part of a dominant, 20-shot opening period from the Penguins.
Crosby scored his second midway through the second period when he snapped a sharp wrist shot underneath the crossbar.
Cullen scored on a 2-on-1 34 seconds later. Hornqvist tipped Brian Dumoulin's point shot past Gibson later in the period as Pittsburgh scored three second-period goals on 10 shots.
NOTES: Pittsburgh won for just the second time in eight home games. ... The Penguins reassigned G Matt Murray, who won two of his first four NHL starts. ... Islanders F Cal Clutterbuck left the game with an upper-body injury. ... Islanders D Johnny Boychuck sat with an upper-body injury. ... Penguins C Nick Bonino played in his 300th NHL game. ... Pittsburgh will host Chicago on Tuesday night before playing its next four on the road. The Islanders will play eight of their next 10 at home, starting Sunday when they host Dallas.