Isles shut down Crosby, beat Penguins

Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders makes

Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders makes a save against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Wednesday. (Dec. 29, 2010) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

For 60 minutes the Islanders did something no other team accomplished in the Penguins' previous 25 games. They held Sidney Crosby, the heart of Pittsburgh's offensive force, off the scoresheet for the first time since Nov. 3.

They held him off again in the five-minute overtime period. And he was stopped in the shootout. That was when goaltender Rick DiPietro wrested the spotlight from Sid the Kid.

With a 3-2 shootout edge, DiPietro delivered a huge final stop with his left pad on Mark Letestu for a thrilling 2-1 win over the Penguins Wednesday night in front of a season-high crowd of 14,345 at Nassau Coliseum. Rob Schremp, Frans Nielsen and P.A. Parenteau scored in the shootout for the Islanders.

"Rick was awesome tonight. That's pretty much self-explanatory," rookie defenseman Travis Hamonic said. "Rick makes it easy, as does Roli. We know our goaltenders always have our backs."

In his first start since a brief stint on injured reserve last week for swelling in his surgically repaired left knee, DiPietro made 37 saves to lead the Islanders to their fourth win in five games. The Islanders also shut down Crosby just a day after the trade of one of their best defenseman, James Wisniewski.

Josh Bailey snapped a scoreless tie 34 seconds into the second period, putting back Hamonic's rebound. Pittsburgh's Chris Conner tied it later in the period, capitalizing on John Tavares' turnover in the neutral zone at 16:33.

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was awarded a penalty shot in the third period after Bruno Gervais appeared to close his hand on the puck in the crease, but Letang shot his backhander high.

"I don't ever like the opportunity to end the shootout without being able to shut the door," DiPietro said. "[Evgeni] Malkin made a nice move and made me look a little foolish, but I got the last one."

The Islanders faced Crosby and the Penguins' high-octane offense without Wisniewski, who was traded to Montreal for draft picks.

"He was a big veteran presence back there. He brought leadership and a sense of calmness on the ice," said Hamonic, who played top-pair minutes. "Whenever you're missing a player like that in your lineup, it's a big void to fill. As a whole unit we can all step up and play better."

In addition to the loss of Wisniewski, the Islanders are without injured Mark Streit, Mike Mottau and Radek Martinek. Throughout the course of the season, Jack Hillen, Milan Jurcina, Andrew MacDonald, Mark Eaton and Gervais have spent time sidelined.

In the constant carousel that is the Islanders' back line, Hamonic holds the longest streak of games (15) among the current crop of defensemen.

It was Hamonic and defensive partner MacDonald that coach Jack Capuano elected to use the most against Crosby's top line.

"It was just an awareness. When he's out there, you just have to be that much more aware," MacDonald said. "It was 25 games for him, it had to end sometime, but I thought we did a good job of containing him. It's quite an accomplishment for him, but it's a big one for us to be able to stop him."

Notes & quotes: Injured forward Kyle Okposo (right shoulder) will not join the team on its upcoming 11-day trip. Okposo began skating in full gear earlier this month but has yet to practice with the team.

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