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Game 20 Preview: Penguins @ Islanders 2/28/2021: lines, how to watch

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The Pens and Islanders are going back to back for one more game

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (11-7-1, 23 points, 5th place in the Eastern Division) @ New York Islanders (10-6-4, 24 points, 3rd place Eastern Division)

When: 5:00 p.m. eastern (hooray for earlier games!)

How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in Pittsburgh, MSG+ in the NYC area

Opponent Track: The Islanders had won two games before dropping the OT game to the Pens last night. After today, NYI moves on to make the short trip to play @New Jersey on Tuesday before hosting the Sabres for two games next Thursday and Saturday.

Pens path ahead: The February of pretty much only seeing the Islanders and Capitals is finally over for the Penguins. They get to go back home after today, and then it’s three games against the Flyers next week on Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday.

Season Series: Pittsburgh is 4-1-0 against the Islanders so far this season (with NYI going 1-2-2 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. Pittsburgh took the 4-3 OT win last night. The Isles still come to Pittsburgh on 3/27 and 3/29 to finish out the series altogether.

Recent History: The Pens are 7-1-3 in the last 11 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

via hockeydb:

—Picture: Mat Barzal, but on a more open offensive team. He’s a standout here, but probably would be even better on a Colorado or Tampa or Pittsburgh or Washington team that really puts the pedal to the metal and opens it up.

—Varlamov had a bad game last night, but has had a really good season. Rookie and prize Russian import Ilya Sorokin did win a game last week against Buffalo. On a back-to-back situation, the door seems like it would be open for him tonight to get into the game.

Possible Lines

FORWARDS

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

DEFENSEMEN

Adam Pelech / Ryan Pulock

Nick Leddy / Scott Mayfield

Andy Greene / Noah Dobson

Possible starting goalie: ?

Scratches: Ross Johnston, Sebastian Aho, Cory Schneider

IR: Michael Del Colle (IR), Johnny Boychuk (LTIR-retired)

And now for the Pens..

—Kris Letang has 4 goals and 3 assists in the last 4 games, and points in them all, and 11 points (4G+7A) in the last nine games. Not bad for a guy who @stinks@.

—Similarly, it’s probably been less steady for Evgeni Malkin, but he’s still managed to record 5 points in the last 5 games and 9 points in his last 11 as reports of his ultimate demise are probably being a bit over-stated, even if his performance is clearly not quite up to expectation or playing as smoothly.

Lines

Forwards

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Kasperi Kapanen

Jared McCann - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust

Zach Aston-Reese - Teddy Blueger - Brandon Tanev

Colton Sceviour - Sam Lafferty - Anthony Angello

Defense

Marcus Pettersson / Kris Letang

Mike Matheson / John Marino

P.O Joseph / Cody Ceci

Possible starting goalie: ?

Scratches: Chad Ruhwedel, Mark Friedman, Mark Jankowski

IR: Juuso Riikola, Evan Rodrigues, Brian Dumoulin, Jason Zucker

Taxi Squad: Yannick Weber, Emil Larmi. Drew O’Connor, Josh Currie

All hail Letang

The praise came in for Kris Letang after his big game last night. First up was Bryan Rust:

“He’s a world-class player,” Bryan Rust said of the 33-year-old defenseman. “Any time he gets on the ice, he plays huge minutes for us. He plays in all situations, he does so many things. I think to see him get two huge goals here again tonight, I think just shows his leadership and his character, and how when the team needs him, he’s just going to step up.”

Coach Mike Sullivan also chimed in:

“He’s just such an important player for us,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “He has the ability to be an impact guy. The game-winning goal is an example of what he’s capable of. He skates so well. He defends hard. But he’s a good player on both sides of the puck. I think that just speaks to the legacy that he’s built here and how important he is to this team.”