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Game 15 Preview: New York Islanders @ Pittsburgh Penguins 2/18/2021: lines, how to watch

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The latest chapter of Isles and Pens is written tonight

New York Islanders v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Who: New York Islanders (8-4-3, 19 points, 2nd place Eastern Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (7-6-1, 15 points, 5th place in the Eastern Division)

When: 7:00 p.m. eastern

How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, MSG+ in NYC, NHL Network elsewhere in America

Opponent Track: It’s been three straight wins for NYI since they fell in a shootout one week ago today to the Pens. First, the Isles took down Boston 4-2 on Saturday in a very impressive win. They followed that up with back-to-back wins over Buffalo on Monday and Tuesday by the scores of 3-1 and 3-0.

Pens path ahead: The Isles/Caps party continues for the Pens. They’ll see NYI again on Saturday before Pittsburgh departs next week on Tuesday (2/23) and Thursday (2/25) to meet the Capitals in DC. Then they jump up to the Island for games next Saturday (2/27) and Sunday (2/28) to see NYI again.

Season Series: NYI took the first matchup 4-3 and the Pens won in a shootout last Thursday (the game where Evgeni Malkin scored a goal in the waning moments to tie it). After this week and next week the teams finish out the season against each other on 3/29 and 3/30 in Pittsburgh.

Recent History: The Pens are 4-1-3 in the last eight games against the Islanders

SBN Team Counterpart: Check out Lighthouse Hockey for the news about the Islanders

Player Stats at a Glance

via hockeydb:

—The Isles have had an uptick on defense, giving up only three total goals in the three games they played after last seeing the Pens. (Two of those games were against the Sabres, themselves returning from a long COVID break). Regardless, Ilya Sorokin recorded his first career win and shutout on Tuesday and Semyon Varlamov’s stats have magically gone back up towards being tops in the league.

—15 games in, only four players have >3 goals for the Islanders. But those four all have 6-7 goals.

Possible Lines

FORWARDS

Anders Lee - Mat Barzal - Josh Bailey

Anthony Beauvillier - Brock Nelson - Jordan Eberle

Michael Del Colle - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Leo Komarov

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

DEFENSEMEN

Adam Pelech / Ryan Pulock

Nick Leddy / Scott Mayfield

Andy Greene / Noah Dobson

Possible starting goalie: Semyon Varlamov

Scratches: Sebastien Aho, Ross Johnston, Dmytro Timashov

IR: Johnny Boychuk (LTIR-retired)

—Beauvillier has recently returned from the IR and has not yet played against the Penguins this season.

And now for the Pens..

Lines

Forwards

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust

Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Kasperi Kapanen

Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev

Sam Lafferty - Mark Jankowski - Colton Sceviour

Defense

P.O Joseph / Kris Letang

Mike Matheson / John Marino

Marcus Pettersson / Cody Ceci

Possible starting goalie: ?

Scratches: Chad Ruhwedel, Drew O’Connor

IR: Juuso Riikola, Evan Rodrigues, Brian Dumoulin, Jared McCann

Taxi Squad: Alex D’Orio, Maxime Lagace, Anthony Angello, Frederick Gaudreau, Kevin Czuczman

—Wednesday was a day off for the Pens, we’ll see if they have any changes in the works for the next game.

Extra buzz in the saw

The Pens’ best grind line hasn’t missed a beat since getting fully reformed with the recent return of Zach Aston-Reese. Our pals at with Pens PR laid out some 4-1-1 on them:

After missing the first 11 games of the season following offseason shoulder surgery, Zach Aston-Reese has returned in a big way, picking up goals in all three games he’s played this season (3G). His three-game goal streak is a new career high, besting his two-game goal streak established twice, originally from Feb. 17-18, 2018 (2G). With a point tomorrow, Aston-Reese can tie his career-long point streak of four games, originally set Dec. 29, 2018-Jan. 4, 2019 (2G-2A).

Teddy Blueger has also had a hot start to the season, as he assisted on Aston-Reese’s third-period goal on Tuesday against Washington. Blueger’s eight points (2G-6A) on the year rank fourth on the team, while his plus-3 is third-best. He’s also won 51.7% of his faceoffs (62-58), putting him on pace for the highest face-off win percentage of his career.

The third member of the line, Brandon Tanev, has also been a consistent contributor for Pittsburgh this season. Tanev’s four goals are fourth-most on the team, and he’s been a staple on the Penguins’ penalty kill, logging a team-best 35:21 of shorthanded time on ice. His 68 hits rank fourth in the NHL.