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Islanders Halt Penguins' Playoff Run

Ty Conklin was unable to lead the Penguins to victory against the Islanders

Well, it looks like Pittsburgh will be waiting at least one more game to guarantee their playoff berth.  Needing only two points to claim their second consecutive playoff spot in just as many years, the Penguins fell victim to the Islanders in a 4-1 loss Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum.

For a team that doesn't have a playoff hope until next season, the New York Islanders put up a solid fight.  Backed by second string netminder Wade Dubielewicz, the Isles held off an early and violent surge from the Penguins.  Former Penguin Richard Park netted the first goal of the night on a shorthanded slapshot early in the first.  Pittsburgh was able to return the favor on the same power play, when Petr Sykora racked the puck to the top shelf over a downed Dubielewicz.  

The score remained tied at one heading into the second, when the Islanders scored on an even strength and power play attempt to raise the lead to 3-1.  The Pittsburgh defense seemed to fade on backstopper Ty Conklin, who would be on the receiving end of 36 shots before the night was done.  New York's Tory Hunter delivered the final nail in the coffin with less than eight minutes remaining to put the final score at 4-1.

Despite six attempts to convert with the man advantage, Pittsburgh's highly ranked power play units were unable to convert on more than the first attempt.  Evgeni Malkin was held pointless on the night, as the race for the Art Ross Trophy comes into its final two weeks.

The Penguins head into New Jersey on Tuesday to take on the Devils.  A win guarantee a playoff spot and additionally widens the Penguins' division lead to four points (three if in overtime).  The Canadiens commandeered a three point lead over the Penguins in the Eastern Conference with a 7-5 victory over Ottawa Monday night.  

All remaining games post the Penguins up against division rivals, an area where the club has struggled all season.  In 25 games, the Penguins have hardly posted a .500 record against Atlantic Division opponents, going 11-13-2.  

Ty Conklin holds a 2-3 record in his last five starts heading into tomorrow's game against the Devils.  Marc-Andre Fleury has already been announced as the starter against the Devils.