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Why the Pittsburgh Penguins were so good, the New York Islanders were so bad, and how the Capitals improved

Pittsburgh Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin and New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh were in a tie for the NHL lead in goals and assists on Wednesday night.

Malkin scored twice in the first period, and McDonaugh added an assist.

McDonagh is on pace to set a new career high in points (37) and is on the verge of tying his career high for assists (34).

New York Islanders center Kyle Okposo also tied his career best with eight assists.

Pittsburgh defenseman Scott Hartnell, who has 15 goals and 17 assists, was also on fire.

Hartnell has 14 points (five goals, 10 assists) in his past eight games.

The Penguins and Islanders each have six points, while New York has three.

The Capitals are in a battle with the Islanders for the Atlantic Division title.

Penguins goaltender Braden Holtby stopped 28 of 28 shots against New York.

The Isles defense held the Penguins to just four shots on goal and was outstanding.

Kris Letang has two goals and two assists in his last five games against the Penguins.

In his past three games, Letang is averaging 1.85 goals per game.

Isles center Jordan Leopold had two assists and a plus-four rating in his previous two games.

He had one goal and an assist in his first two games against New Jersey.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby was the only other player in the top five on the scoring list with 10 points (three goals, five assists) and a minus-5 rating.

Pittsburgh’s Artemi Panarin had four points (one goal, two assists) for the Penguins, who won their third straight game.