PITTSBURGH - Penguins coach Mike Johnston said he was viewing the home-and-home against the Islanders that began Friday night at the Consol Energy Center "like a playoff series." If so, the Islanders enjoy an early advantage.

Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo scored in the shootout as the Islanders beat the Penguins, 5-4.

Sidney Crosby scored the first goal of the shootout against Chad Johnson. Nielsen, going next, tied it.

After Johnson stopped Brandon Sutter, Okposo beat Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Islanders the gritty victory.

"Game 2" is Saturday night at the Coliseum.

"It's a big game for us," Johnson said before the home-and-home opener. "For them, too."

Said Johnston: "In my mind, you treat it like a playoff series. It gives you a chance during the year to simulate playoff action. You play a game and now you react to how you play and what you need to do the next day."

The Penguins rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits to tie the game at 4 with 7:00 to go in regulation when Patric Hornqvist beat Johnson off a feed from Evgeny Malkin.

The Islanders, who trail first-place Pittsburgh by two points in the Metropolitan Division, scored three goals in a 1:35 span of the first period after the Penguins had taken a 1-0 lead 1:13 into the contest on Sutter's redirection past Johnson.

The Islanders responded with goals from Matt Martin, Nikolay Kulemin and Ryan Strome against Fleury. The Penguins appeared wobbly.

Martin came off the bench on a line change, skated across ice, picked up the puck and beat Fleury at 8:18 to tie it. It was Martin's first goal of the season.

Just 29 seconds later, Kulemin turned a takeaway into a 2-1 Islanders lead. Finally, Strome scored on a deflection of Thomas Hickey's shot at 9:53.

Pittsburgh's Blake Comeau made it 3-2 when his centering feed was deflected in with 3:26 left in the period.

The teams traded goals in the second period. Nick Leddy scored at 5:42 to give the Islanders a two-goal advantage. It went back to a one-goal game when Pittsburgh's Nick Spaling knocked a rebound past Johnson at 8:50.

"It's not the score you want to see," said Islanders coach Jack Capuano, who was displeased with his team's effort in the second period. "Especially from our end, the last thing we want to do is get in a shootout with these guys. They're a pretty good hockey club. So we've just got to be better."

Still, Capuano was happy with the two points.

"To me that's the sign of a good team," Capuano said. "When you don't play well and you don't stay focused and you don't do the intangibles that it takes, you still won the hockey game. They're a good team in there. They've just got to believe in playing the right way."

Notes & quotes: Michael Grabner, who is recovering from hernia surgery, skated with the team in the morning, but was not activated . . . Johnny Boychuck played after missing part of Tuesday's game with a lower body injury . . . The Islanders are 7-3 in their last 10 games.