When: 7:00 p.m. eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, MSG+ in the NYC area
Opponent Track: Last week we saw the Islanders at their worst, losing two games to the Pens in regulation. Since then, they returned home and recorded two wins; one over Buffalo 3-2 on Monday and then a super-impressive 7-2 win over first place Boston on Thursday night.
Pens path ahead: The February of the Islanders/Caps games for the Pens is so close to over with just today and tomorrow to play NYI. Next week the Flyers come to Pittsburgh for three straight games on Tuesday (3/2) and Thursday (3/4) and now also on Saturday (3/6).
Season Series: Pittsburgh is 3-1-0 against the Islanders so far this season (with NYI going 1-2-1 from their perspective), all of which have been in the last three weeks. New York won 4-3 back on 2/6, and the Pens took a 4-3 (shootout) win on 2/8 for the first two games from Long Island. The Pens won both games last week in Pittsburgh, 4-1 on 2/18 and then 3-2 on 2/20. Today and tomorrow represent the last times of the regular season the Pens will play in the dump known as Nassau Coliseum (said somewhat lovingly) as the Isles are scheduled to move into their new building finally next season. The Isles still come to Pittsburgh on 3/27 and 3/29 to finish out the series altogether.
Recent History: The Pens are 6-1-3 in the last 10 games overall against the Islanders.
SBN Team Counterpart: Check out Lighthouse Hockey for the latest news to know about the Islanders
Player Stats at a Glance
—One item that really stands out is the Islanders good fortune in health this season. 15 of their skaters have appeared in all 19 games-to-date, and considering a team only needs 18 per game, that’s a huge percentage of their lineup able to be available to answer the bell for each game so far. (By contrast the Pens have just eight players to appear in all 18 of their games to this point in the season).
—To that end, the Islanders have used the same six defensemen in each and every game all season so far. How lovely that must be!
—The rookie Ilya Sorokin started and won against Buffalo on Monday, but it’s pretty much exclusively been the Semyon Varlamov show for the Isles. Varlamov has played the other nine NYI games this month, including all four of the February Pens/Islanders matchups this month.
Anders Lee - Mat Barzal - Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier - Brock Nelson - Josh Bailey
Austin Czarnik - J.G. Pageau - Oliver Wahlstrom
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech / Ryan Pulock
Nick Leddy / Scott Mayfield
Andy Greene / Noah Dobson
Possible starting goalie: Semyon Varlamov
Scratches: Ross Johnston, Sebastian Aho, Cory Schneider
IR: Michael Del Colle (IR), Johnny Boychuk (LTIR-retired)
And now for the Pens..
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Kasperi Kapanen
Zach Aston-Reese - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust
Brandon Tanev - Teddy Blueger - Sam Lafferty
Drew O’Connor - Mark Jankowski - Colton Sceviour
P.O Joseph / Kris Letang
Mike Matheson / John Marino
Marcus Pettersson / Cody Ceci
Possible starting goalie: Tristan Jarry
Scratches: Chad Ruhwedel, Mark Friedman, Josh Currie
IR: Juuso Riikola, Evan Rodrigues, Brian Dumoulin, Jared McCann, Jason Zucker
Taxi Squad: Jordy Bellerive, , Yannick Weber, Emil Larmi
—The Penguins cancelled practice yesterday, giving the team a day off with the travel instead of going on the ice so lines will remain above as they played on Thursday. But can the extra day be enough for McCann to get off IR and back into the game? It could be close, being as he skated in a contact fashion on Thursday.
—Brandon Tanev scored a SHG last game and is always a thorn in the side of NYI, the speedy winger has seven career points (3G+4A) in 11 career games against the Islanders.
—Unlike the Isles’ health and good fortune, Pittsburgh had over $14 million and five players sitting on IR yesterday.
Jake Guentzel, who scored a game-tying goal in the third period on Thursday against Washington, has continued his clutch play on the road. He currently leads the Pens in points away from Pittsburgh. From the Pens’ PR team:
The goal (last game) extended Guentzel’s point streak to three games (2G-2A). With a point tomorrow, Guentzel can string together his first four-game point streak of the season.
Guentzel is also riding a four-game road point streak (3G-3A), and his eight points (4G-4A) in 10 road games are most on the team:
Road Point Leaders
Player GP G A PTS
Jake Guentzel 10 4 4 8
Sidney Crosby 10 3 3 6
Kasperi Kapanen 8 3 3 6
Evgeni Malkin 10 3 3 6
Bryan Rust 10 1 5 6
Brandon Tanev 10 4 2 6
Road games overall have been a problem for the Pens this season, they’re only 3-6-1 away from PPG Paints Arena (compared to 7-1-0 playing at home). So perhaps fortunately for the Pens after this weekend the next five games are all at home (3 vs PHI, 2 vs NYR).
Overall Pittsburgh has a whopping 16 games scheduled for March, but on the plus side for them 12 of them will at home, which will at least greatly reduce travel and time on the road