One step forward, one step back.
Following an emotional 4-3 shootout win over Nashville Tuesday that snapped a seven-game losing streak, the Islanders fell, 3-1, to the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins in Pittsburgh last night.
The Islanders are 2-8-0 in their last 10 games.
The last time the Islanders made a visit to Mellon Arena on Jan. 19, they were overpowered by the tandem of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, who totaled nine points (five goals, four assists) in Pittsburgh's 6-4 win.
Crosby was held off the scoresheet last night, but Malkin had a goal and an assist. The Islanders didn't have an answer for Chris Kunitz, who had his first multigoal game of the season after recently returning from an abdominal injury.
Trailing 2-0 in the third period, the Islanders' Frans Nielsen scored on a swift backhander when he was left alone in front of Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. But Kunitz scored his second goal on a breakaway to give Pittsburgh an insurance goal at 14:48.
The Islanders' lack of scoring haunted them once again. They attacked Pittsburgh relentlessly in the third period but couldn't find the tying goal.
"It's something that eventually is going to turn our way," coach Scott Gordon said of the lack of scoring. "We're generating shots and generating offense, but we're not at the point where we are consistently burying them."
Dwayne Roloson got the start and made 25 saves.
One night after the Islanders notched two power-play goals, they failed to cash in on 48 seconds of 5-on-3 time in the second period after Jordan Staal took a crosschecking penalty with Brooks Orpik already in the box.
Ten seconds after Staal left the box, the Penguins scored on an odd-man rush. Kunitz lifted the puck from the left circle to beat Roloson short side at 10:33 of the period to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead. Malkin scored on a tip-in tally at 17:00.
The Islanders have two games remaining until the Olympics break, and each game takes on greater significance if they don't want to mull a bleak playoff picture during their two-week recess.
"We're not far off from going the other way," said Gordon. "We're not getting outplayed or beaten because our opponent has outplayed us. They've outscored us. It's frustrating."