Penguins looking to snap Islanders' point streak
(AP) -- The Pittsburgh Penguins represent the only recent blemish on the New York Islanders' schedule. Now those teams open a home-and-home series.
They play Tuesday in Pittsburgh before meeting again Thursday in New York.
The Islanders have points in 14 straight games, 13-0-1, to sit in a tie for second in the Eastern Conference. The 1 at the end of that equation was a 4-3 Pittsburgh overtime win Nov. 7 in New York.
The point streak is the Islanders' longest since they won 15 in a row from Jan. 21-Feb. 20, 1982.
Most recently, the Islanders rallied from a three-goal deficit in the third period Saturday to snatch a 4-3 shootout win against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Mathew Barzal, who had one of the third-period goals that night, said the Islanders simply are resilient.
"I don't know what it is with this group. We knew we'd be in the fight right to the end, and that's what we did," he said.
Anthony Beauvillier scored twice Saturday, giving him four goals in two games after going 14 games without scoring.
"I think he's just using his assets," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. "He's a great skater. He's got confidence with the puck. He's got nice hands. He can score. And he's going to the hard areas. And because he's going to the hard areas, he's getting rewarded."
Islanders forward Casey Cizikas is expected to play in his 500th career game Tuesday.
"I'm excited about it," Cizikas told Newsday. "I'm proud about it. It seems like the years get quicker and quicker."
Pittsburgh is 5-2-2 in its past nine games despite a continuing parade of injuries. Currently out are captain and top-line center Sidney Crosby, top defenseman Kris Letang and feisty winger Patric Hornqvist. In addition, center Nick Bjugstad left Saturday's 6-1 win against Toronto. There hasn't been an update on his status.
The Penguins' special teams has been a mixed bag but is rounding into a two-way strength.
The penalty kill has been perfect the past nine games, snuffing all 20 opponent power plays, and on Saturday produced Pittsburgh's fourth short-handed goal.
"I think we're finding chemistry with some of the tandems we're trying to use up front (and) the defenesemen are doing a real good job making sure that they make good reads and good decisions on when they're going to pressure," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.
"It's not isolated pressure; it's collective pressure, and that's a lot harder to beat."
The Pittsburgh power play recently went 0-for-27 over an 11-game stretch, but now is 2-for-7 over the past three games, including a goal on its only chance Saturday.
A tweak seems to have helped. There is an emphasis on launching more shots, particularly from the perimeter, to create rebounds and more scoring chances.
"Yeah, simplify it," said Justin Schultz, a regular on the point. "The more pucks we can get on net, the more opportunities we will have. Maybe it will open something up and, hopefully, we'll get some confidence. If the lane's there, just take it."
Pittsburgh had an unusual schedule leading into the game against the Islanders, practicing Sunday morning despite coming off back-to-back games in two cities, and taking Monday off. That was so the coaches and other staffers could travel to Toronto, where on Monday night Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford was being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
--Field Level Media
Updated November 19, 2019