NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, December 3rd
(All times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Penguins (18-9-1) at New York Islanders (8-15-4), 7 p.m.
(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
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
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
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 11:00:33 ET