UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Sidney Crosby left briefly in the second period after being bloodied when he was struck in the face with the puck, but his return wasn't enough for the suddenly slumping Pittsburgh Penguins, who were beaten again by the New York Islanders, 5-3 on Thursday night.
The Islanders, who began the night in 13th place in the 15-team Eastern Conference, dealt Pittsburgh another big blow as the Penguins try to catch the New York Rangers atop the East. The Islanders knocked off the Penguins in Pittsburgh 5-3 on Tuesday night and completed the home-and-home sweep Thursday.
Pittsburgh trails the Rangers by five points with five games remaining. The Penguins, who hadn't lost consecutive games in regulation since Jan. 10-11, are trying to finish first to avoid being no better than the No. 4 seed in the East.
Marty Reasoner gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead with his first goal in over a year, and Pascal Dupuis got the Penguins even in the second with a short-handed goal while Crosby was in the dressing room for repairs.
When Crosby got back to the bench and then on the ice, the Islanders took over again. Kyle Okposo scored a power-play goal when his centering pass intended for Nino Niederreiter in front caromed into the net off Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland with 3:24 left in the period.
Josh Bailey, who had three assists for the second straight game, pushed the lead to 3-1 exactly 2 minutes later when he scored on a short-handed breakaway. Bailey also had a career-high three assists Tuesday when the Islanders snapped the Penguins' 10-game, home-winning streak and won in Pittsburgh for the first time in more than four years (0-11-2).
Okposo added his second of the night at 5:52 of the third off a feed in front from Bailey. Al Montoya made 26 saves for the win.
Evgeni Malkin cut it to 4-3 with 1:31 remaining after goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled for an extra skater, but Bailey pushed the lead back to two goals with an empty-netter with 4.7 seconds left.
Pittsburgh, which recorded 54 shots in Tuesday's loss, held a 29-24 edge Thursday.
The Penguins were recently rolling and cementing themselves as the popular choice to be this year's Stanley Cup champion. But sudden struggles, coinciding with the Rangers getting back on track, have stunted Pittsburgh's surge. The Penguins went on a 13-0-1 spurt, but they are 1-3 since then.
The Islanders returned home after a 4-1 road trip with their slim playoff hopes still intact, and they took things to the Penguins again.
Reasoner got New York on the board in the fast-moving first period that featured few whistles when he took a pass from defenseman Mark Streit in the slot and snapped a shot past Fleury for his first goal in 71 games -- dating to March 8, 2011.
Crosby, playing in the ninth game of his second comeback of the season after recovering from concussion symptoms, was injured 1:43 into the second period. Islanders defenseman Dylan Reese was trying to clear the puck out of the lower left corner in the New York end when he hit Crosby, who was standing a few feet away.
Crosby stayed down on his stomach for about a minute before gathering himself and getting back up on his skates. He then skated off toward the tunnel leading to the dressing room. He returned to the bench with 10:13 left in the period, and was back on the ice moments later.
A pool of blood was on the ice where the 24-year-old Crosby went down.
He returned to a 1-1 game after Dupuis scored to tie it at 8:37.
But Okposo put New York back in front 7:59 later, and Bailey made it 3-1 when Jay Pandolfo dived at center ice to knock a loose puck to him and send him in on a breakaway.
Okposo struck again in the third, and Jordan Staal brought the Penguins within 4-2 with 11:40 remaining in the game.
NOTES: Bailey is on a five-game point streak (3 goals, 9 assists). He has seven goals and 10 assists in 15 games after missing two games because of a back injury. ... Fleury shook off an injury sustained Tuesday and got the start in the rematch with the Islanders. However, defenseman Kris Letang missed his second straight game and will also sit out Friday when the Penguins play at Buffalo. ... Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who sustained a lower body injury in the win at Pittsburgh on Tuesday, sat out. New York agreed to terms with veteran goalie John Grahame for the remainder of the season.