NEW YORK — The Pittsburgh Penguins clinched a playoff berth Saturday behind Matt Murray's 23 saves for his first NHL shutout, 5-0 over the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Surging Pittsburgh improved to 45-25-8 with its fifth straight win and has outscored opponents 25-10 in that stretch.
The Penguins made the post-season for the 10th straight year and solidified their grip on second place in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh led the New York Rangers by three points, with the Rangers hosting Buffalo on Saturday night.
Oskar Sundqvist, Patric Hornqvist, Matt Cullen, Phil Kessel and Tom Kuhnhackl scored for Pittsburgh, and Sidney Crosby got his 600th NHL assist. Crosby, the NHL's first star for March, played in his 704th game as a Penguin, passing Brooks Orpik for fifth place on the franchise's all-time list.
Crosby has 24 points in Pittsburgh's last 18 games.
Hornqivst also had an assist. He, Cullen and Justin Schultz each finished with two points. Nine Penguins had at least one point in the rout.
Despite getting 26 saves from Jean-Francois Berube, New York fell to 42-26-5 after its first loss in four games. The Islanders lead Philadelphia by two points for the East's first wild-card berth. Both teams have five games remaining, including the season finale on April 10 at Barclays Center.
Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead on Sundqvist's short-handed goal. The sequence began with a miscommunication between Berube and Nick Leddy on a pass. Berube sent a pass up the middle as Leddy curled toward the half wall, and Sundqvist picked off the puck at the blue line before getting his first NHL goal on a long wrist shot.
Sundqvist's goal underscored an opening 20 minutes in which Pittsburgh outshot New York 14-7 despite the Islanders having two full power plays.
For the game, Pittsburgh outshot New York 33-23.
More New York mistakes helped the Penguins. With Nikolay Kulemin serving a double-minor for roughing and slashing Kris Letang, Pittsburgh doubled its lead on Hornqvist's power-play goal. Crosby earned his 600th assist as Hornqvist tipped Schultz's shot from the left point.
The Penguins finished 2 for 3 on the man advantage, and killed all five New York power plays.
Cullen's goal with 4:18 left in the middle period put the game out of reach. Calvin de Haan committed an unforced turnover at the blue line, leading to Cullen's 14th goal.
Kessel's power-play strike in the third period was his 26th of the season, and fifth goal in his last five games. Kuhnhackl ended the scoring.
NOTES: Both teams have significant injuries to key players. The Penguins were without starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, diagnosed with a concussion Friday, while the Islanders will not have defenceman Travis Hamonic for the rest of the regular season with a lower body injury sustained in a win over Columbus on Thursday. . Marek Zidlicky dressed in place of Hamonic. The game was Zidlicky's first since March 6. ... Along with Hamonic, Mikhail Grabovski and Jaroslav Halak missed the game due to injuries. . The Penguins scratched Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot and Bryan Rust. . Steve Bernier, Eric Boulton and Ryan Pulock were scratched by the Islanders. ... The Islanders announced a sellout crowd of 15,795. It was their eighth sellout of the season.
Denis P. Gorman, The Associated Press