Islanders aim to get on track in clash with Penguins
(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Islanders would like to put their poor November showing behind them.
A win in Tuesday's home clash against the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins could get the Islanders off to a quick start in December, as a pair of Metropolitan Division rivals do battle at Nassau Coliseum.
The Isles turned in a brutal 4-10-1 record in November, ending the rough month on a six-game losing streak. That current 0-5-1 slide is the longest losing streak for New York since it suffered through an 0-4-2 stretch from Oct. 20- Nov. 3, 2011.
New York did manage to earn a point in its most recent outing, but the overtime loss to Washington was still a tough one to swallow.
Thomas Vanek put the Islanders on top on his goal with 1:51 remaining, but Nicklas Backstrom tied things up with 49 seconds to go to force the extra session. Alex Ovechkin then scored the game-winner 2:07 into overtime to lift the Capitals to a thrilling 3-2 win on Long Island.
Ovechkin skated along the right side and cut back to the middle of the ice before putting a shot on goal that was turned away. Moments later Ovechkin corralled a loose disc and successfully deposited it into the back of the net.
"We finally get the lead and instead of keep playing hard, we sat back for no reason," Vanek said. "We should have took it to them for 60 minutes, and not 59."
Cal Clutterbuck added a goal for the Islanders, while Anders Nilsson allowed all three goals on 30 shots.
New York aims to salvage the finale of a four-game homestand on Tuesday, but will have to do so against a Pittsburgh team that has taken five of the last six regular-season meetings in this series. Of course, the Pens also ousted the Isles from the opening round of last spring's playoffs, beating New York in six games.
The clubs have split two encounters since that postseason encounter. The Isles beat Pittsburgh, 4-3, on Oct. 25 in the Steel City before the Pens won another home test on Nov. 22 by the same score. Sidney Crosby scored with 1:16 remaining in the third period to lift Pittsburgh to victory in the most recent encounter.
The division-leading Pens, who also have won five of their last six regular- season tilts at the Coliseum, enter Tuesday riding a three-game winning streak. Pittsburgh is 6-1-1 in its last eight trips to the ice and last played on Saturday when it dismantled the Florida Panthers in a 5-1 rout.
Evgeni Malkin had one goal and three assists to lead the Pens to the road win, continuing his recent offensive surge.
The Russian star has four goals and 13 assists during an eight-game point streak for the Penguins, tying him with Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf for the longest current run in the NHL.
Malkin was named the NHL's First Star of the Week on Monday and is second in the league with 35 points (7 goals, 28 assists). Only his teammate Crosby has more with 36 points on 13 goals and 23 helpers.
"I'm not at the top (of my game)," Malkin said after his recent four-point night. "Sometimes I have the puck and I need to shoot. Instead I pass. It's a mistake for me. Sometimes I'm in a great position to shoot. I just need to shoot myself."
James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Joe Vitale and Jussi Jokinen also lit the lamp in Saturday's win, while Jeff Zatkoff stopped 39-of-40 shots in the victory.
Marc-Andre Fleury could get the start for Pittsburgh tonight. The veteran backstop is 18-7-3 with a tie and a 2.54 goals against average in 31 career games against the Isles.
Malkin has victimized the Islanders for 51 points (20G, 31A) in 41 career games against them. Crosby has amassed a remarkable 78 points in 43 outings in this series, notching 22 goals and 56 assists along the way.
12/03 10:51:36 ET