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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, May 3rd (All times Eastern)
(8) New York Islanders (0-1) at (1) Pittsburgh Penguins (1-0), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The New York Islanders' first playoff game in six years did not go well, but the eighth-seeded club will try to rebound on Friday when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for Game 2 at CONSOL Energy Center.
That figures to be easier said than done with Pens superstar captain Sidney Crosby set to return to action.
The Penguins, this year's No. 1 seed in the East, didn't have Crosby when they opened the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at home on Wednesday, but they didn't need him to rout New York.
Pascal Dupuis scored twice and Marc-Andre Fleury posted a shutout with 26 saves to lead the Penguins in a 5-0 thumping of the Islanders in Game 1.
Playing without Crosby, who has been sidelined since suffering a broken jaw against the Islanders on March 30, Pittsburgh put on a clinic in the first two periods then held firm in the third to grab a 1-0 lead in this best-of-seven series.
Tanner Glass, Beau Bennett and Kris Letang all scored for the Penguins, who are in the playoffs for a seventh straight year but have been bounced in the first round the past two seasons. Jarome Iginla, Jussi Jokinen and Evgeni Malkin each posted two assists.
"You obviously want to win the first one and play well," said Dupuis. "But we've spent the past 20 games or so playing well and winning those one-goal games, so we know what winning looks like."
A majority of those games came without Crosby, who on Thursday practiced on a line with Dupuis and Chris Kunitz, his usual line mates. Crosby has been back at practice for more than a week, but this is the first time he was placed on one of the top-four lines.
Crosby was again with the pair at Friday's morning skate before saying he was cleared by doctors to return to game action.
Pittsburgh also lost forwards James Neal and Jussi Jokinen to injuries in Wednesday's Game 1. Neal, who was second on Pittsburgh with 21 goals this season, is questionable for tonight's game after suffering a lower body injury following a hit from New York's Travis Hamonic.
Jokinen, meanwhile, expects to play Friday after leaving Game 1 late in the third period with an undisclosed injury. The Finnish forward had seven goals and four assists in 10 regular-season games with Pittsburgh after he was acquired in a trade with Carolina.
Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov will try to bounce back from a rough outing in Game 1, as he was chased from the net early in the second period after allowing four goals on 15 shots. Kevin Poulin stopped 10-of-11 shots the rest of the way for the Isles, who are in the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
"I just thought our execution was very poor tonight," said New York head coach Jack Capuano. "When you spent the night chasing the puck the whole time you're not going to accomplish much."
Centerman John Tavares also will try for a better effort tonight after he failed to register a shot while skating over 17 minutes in his playoff debut. The first overall pick in the 2009 draft, Tavares has garnered Hart Trophy support after helping lead the Isles back to the playoffs with a 28-goal, 47- point regular season.
Tavares believes the key to get back into this series lies in the physical aspects of the game.
"A lot of sacrifices are made [to win]," Tavares told his club's official website. "It's going to hurt a little bit. I try to be physical myself. I tried to finish some hits. It's a part of the playoffs."
The Penguins are seeking their first ever playoff series victory over the Islanders, who have won all three of the previous matchups. However, all three series were pushed to the brink, including a best-of-five series meeting in the conference quarterfinals in 1982, when New York won its third of four straight Cups.
These clubs haven't met in the playoffs since the 1993 division finals.
The Penguins went 18-6-0 as the host this season and the Islanders had a solid 14-6-4 record as the guest.
The next two tests of this series will be played at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, with Game 3 set for Sunday afternoon.
05/03 11:29:18 ET