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Penguins steamroll Islanders as veteran stars click

AP, Reuters

A renewed commitment to defense has the Pittsburgh Penguins back on track after a bumpy November.

Pittsburgh’s dynamic offense appears to have found its stride, too.

Kris Letang and Phil Kessel each scored twice, and the Penguins beat the New York Islanders 6-2 on Thursday night.

“Obviously, this year hasn’t started off the best for us, but we’re right in it,” Kessel said. “There’s a lot of hockey to play and we just gotta keep improving and getting better.”

Kessel, who also had two assists, tied Ed Olczyk, Scott Young and Brian Rolston for 10th all-time in career goals by an American-born player with 342. Letang’s two goals moved him in front of Larry Murphy for most multigoal home games for a Penguins’ defenseman in franchise history.

Sidney Crosby scored his 15th goal and had two assists. Crosby tied Jaromir Jagr for second-most home goals in franchise history with 232. Riley Sheahan scored his fourth goal for Pittsburgh, which pulled into a third-place tie in the Metropolitan Division with the Islanders and New York Rangers.

The Penguins have won two straight and five of eight following a slump in which they won once in 10 games.

Jake Guentzel had three assists and established a career-best six-game point streak for Pittsburgh, which scored six or more goals in back-to-back games for the second time this season.

Casey DeSmith made 19 saves to win for the fifth time in six starts.

“I think we’ve really improved in our own end,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’re not giving up nearly as many chances as we did in probably the first 20 games of the season. We’re cutting down not only the quantity of chances, but the quality on most nights.

“We have our hiccups, but we’re certainly trending in the right direction.”

Red Wings 5, Maple Leafs 4 (OT)

In Toronto, Dylan Larkin scored on a breakaway at 2:48 of overtime as Detroit topped the Maple Leafs.

Blue Jackets 4, Flyers 3 (OT)

In Philadelphia, Seth Jones scored two goals, including the game-winner 10 seconds into overtime, to lift Columbus past the hosts.

Lightning 3, Bruins 2

In Tampa, Mathieu Joseph and Anthony Cirelli tallied just over a minute apart in the third period as the streaking Lightning edged Boston.

In Other Games

Avalanche 5, Panthers 2

Canadiens 5, Senators 2

Canucks 5, Predators 3

Golden Knights 4, Blackhawks 3

Capitals 4, Coyotes 2

Flames 2, Wild 0

Devils 6, Kings 3