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Penguins rally for 11th straight win behind Vokoun

REUTERS - Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun eyes the puck as he makes a save against the New York Islanders in the first period Friday, March 22, 2013, in Uniondale, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>REUTERS</em></div>Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun eyes the puck as he makes a save against the New York Islanders in the first period Friday, March 22, 2013, in Uniondale, N.Y.
Getty Images - Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov defends the net against Penguins center Sidney Crosby during the second period Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov defends the net against Penguins center Sidney Crosby during the second period Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
Getty Images - Penguins winger Beau Bennett (19) and defenseman Simon Despres (47) defend against Islanders forward John Tavares on Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Penguins winger Beau Bennett (19) and defenseman Simon Despres (47) defend against Islanders forward John Tavares on Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
AP - Islanders left wing Josh Bailey shoots the puck past Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun in the second period Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Islanders left wing Josh Bailey shoots the puck past Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun in the second period Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
Getty Images - Islanders defenseman Mark Streit (2) and forward Michael Grabner (40) defend against Penguins winger James Neal on Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Islanders defenseman Mark Streit (2) and forward Michael Grabner (40) defend against Penguins winger James Neal on Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
Getty Images - Penguins winger Craig Adams and Islanders left wing Matt Martin get tangled up during the first period on Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Penguins winger Craig Adams and Islanders left wing Matt Martin get tangled up during the first period on Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
Getty Images - Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic trips up Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis during the first period Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic trips up Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis during the first period Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
Getty Images - Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic holds up Penguins winger James Neal on Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic holds up Penguins winger James Neal on Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
Getty Images - Penguins center Sidney Crosby shoots wide of the New York Islanders net during the first period on Friday, March 22, 2013, at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Penguins center Sidney Crosby shoots wide of the New York Islanders net during the first period on Friday, March 22, 2013, at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
Getty Images - Penguins winger James Neal moves around Islanders defenseman Matt Carkner on Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Penguins winger James Neal moves around Islanders defenseman Matt Carkner on Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
Getty Images - Penguins winger Trevor Smith skates in his first game with the team against the New York Islanders on Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Penguins winger Trevor Smith skates in his first game with the team against the New York Islanders on Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
REUTERS - New York Islanders center Frans Nielsen tries to steal the puck from Penguins center Sidney Crosby during the first period Friday, March 22, 2013, in Uniondale, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>REUTERS</em></div>New York Islanders center Frans Nielsen tries to steal the puck from Penguins center Sidney Crosby during the first period Friday, March 22, 2013, in Uniondale, N.Y.
AP - The Penguins' Craig Adams (27), Simon Despres (47) and Tanner Glass (10) celebrate Joe Vitale's goal as Islanders forward Michael Grabner skates away in the second period Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Penguins' Craig Adams (27), Simon Despres (47) and Tanner Glass (10) celebrate Joe Vitale's goal as Islanders forward Michael Grabner skates away in the second period Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
REUTERS - Penguins defenseman Paul Martin, shown here putting a hit on New York Islanders defenseman Mark Streit in this photo from March 2013 is expected to return to the lineup Thursday in Winnipeg. Penguins forwards have expressed that playing without the injured Martin has been difficult because of his ability to quickly retrieve the puck and send it to the forwards.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>REUTERS</em></div>Penguins defenseman Paul Martin, shown here putting a hit on New York Islanders defenseman Mark Streit in this photo from March 2013 is expected to return to the lineup Thursday in Winnipeg. Penguins forwards have expressed that playing without the injured Martin has been difficult because of his ability to quickly retrieve the puck and send it to the forwards.
Getty Images - Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun prepares for his game against the New York Islanders on Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun prepares for his game against the New York Islanders on Friday, March 22, 2013, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Josh Yohe
Friday, March 22, 2013, 9:51 p.m.
 

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The genesis of the Penguins' 11-game winning streak was March 7 in Philadelphia when Tomas Vokoun gave an inspiring speech following the first period.

Vokoun did his talking — and his inspiring — on the ice Friday against the Islanders. His work lifted the otherwise lifeless Penguins to a 4-2 victory.

They will attempt to win their 12th straight game Sunday night at home against the Flyers. The NHL record for most consecutive wins, set by the 1992-93 Penguins, is 17.

“We were terrible in the first period,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who finished with two assists and now holds an 11-point lead in the NHL scoring race. “Vokoun made a ton of big saves. He's the reason we were able to win tonight.”

The Islanders recorded the game's first 12 shots and were the superior team throughout the first two periods. Vokoun, though, was a wall for much of the evening, stopping 33 of 35 shots.

He withstood a significant outburst from the Islanders during the opening 10 minutes and made spectacular second-period saves on Michael Grabner and Marty Reasoner to keep the game within reach.

“Obviously, we were outplayed tonight,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “They took it to us. We were fortunate to get some big saves from Vokoun.”

Vokoun's performance reminded some Penguins of the barrage they used to throw at him while he played for Florida. In those days, Vokoun routinely saw more than 40 shots per game.

“We've seen that before,” left wing Matt Cooke said. “Felt like I was in Mellon Arena seeing him stand on his head like that. They just came out so hard on us. They're a good hockey team. Obviously, he played a great game tonight.”

There were many reasons to believe the Penguins' winning streak was in jeopardy against the Islanders.

Before the game, it was announced that stars Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang would not play against New York, their injuries not quite 100-percent healed. Then, while the Penguins were being ambushed by an Islanders team hungry to get into playoff position, right wing Craig Adams left the game in the first period after being punched by New York's Matt Martin during a fight, and left wing Chris Kunitz was injured following a collision with forward Kyle Okposo.

Both players are apparently fine.

“Just procedural stuff,” Adams said. “I'm OK.”

Kunitz proved he was fine by scoring late in the second period to even the game at 2-2. A Joe Vitale goal gave the Penguins life midway through the second period.

Brandon Sutter then scored the game-winning goal early in the third period — just as he did last month on Long Island.

Of his nine goals, six have come in the third period or overtime. Pascal Dupuis added an empty-netter with less than one second remaining.

Sutter and Cooke teamed up for the game-winner and also were instrumental in helping to kill two penalties late in the third period.

“I thought those were huge kills,” Bylsma said. “That's an extremely dangerous power play.”

Vokoun was pretty huge, too.

“We bend,” Vokoun said. “But we don't break.”

The Penguins looked on the verge of breaking on this night. Vokoun wouldn't allow it.

“I didn't see all of the first period,” Adams said. “But I saw enough. Vouky kept us in it. He gave us a chance.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Rach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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