Who: New York Islanders (34-29-9, 77 points, 5th place Metropolitan Division) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (42-22-11, 95 points, 3rd place Metropolitan Division)
When: 7:00 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: AT&T Sportsnet in the Western PA market, MSG+ in the NYC area, ESPN+
Opponent Track: The Islanders are in win-loss-win-loss-win mode over the last five games, including of course the 5-4 shootout victory they claimed over the Penguins on Tuesday night.
Pens Path Ahead: The Sick-guins have to make it through tonight and Saturday afternoon at 12:30pm in Boston. And then, finally, a reprieve in the schedule will give the team a break from Sunday through next Thursday (4/21) when they get the Bruins again, at home this time.
Magic Number: 3. Any combination of three points earned by the Pens, or lost by the Islanders will guarantee Pittsburgh’s 16th straight trip to the post-season. (So, any sort of win tonight would cover it).
Hidden Stat: Regular season success against NYI at home has been a hallmark. Pittsburgh has wins in four-straight (4-0-0), and points in six straight games against New York (5-0-1) dating back to Dec. 6, 2018 (h/t Pens PR).
Season Series: This is the third and final PIT/NYI game, with the Pens 1-0-1 so far (NY being 1-1-0 from their end). Pittsburgh won the first meeting 1-0 back on November 26th, and the Islanders won 5-4 in the shootout on Tuesday.
SBN Counterpart Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
—It’s surprising to see Beauvillier only has 11 goals this season. He’s scored 14 total goals in the last two NYI playoff run (41 games) and scored 14 times in last season’s shortened season where he played 47 games (26 goal pace over a full 82 games).
—Zach Parise and Mat Barzal were showing a lot of chemistry last game out. Parise, 37, has signed an extension to stay with NYI for next season.
Tuesday Game Lines
Anders Lee - Brock Nelson -Anthony Beauvillier
Josh Bailey - J.G. Pageau - Kyle Palmieri
Zach Parise - Mat Barzal - Oliver Wahlstrom
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Ross Johnston
Adam Pelech / Ryan Pulock
Zdeno Chara / Noah Dobson
Andy Greene / Grant Hutton
Goalies: Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov
Scratches: Kiefer Bellows (sick on Tuesday), the defenseman Sebastien Aho
IR: Scott Mayfield, Cal Clutterbuck
—Pelech and Pulock played 23:28 and 25:00 respectively on Tuesday. Given this depth chart, they are going to be on the ice a lot. Surprisingly enough, Chara logged a season-high 22:43 last game and could represent an opportunity to use speed to exploit his game at the age of 45, presuming players can get around and through his long reach.
—Pageau was the main man in the faceoff circle on Tuesday, taking 33 of the 58 total draws. He was excellent too, winning 19 of them (63%). In a related note, Sidney Crosby had a dreadful night in the faceoff circle, winning just nine of his 27 faceoffs (33%). Crosby is one of the best faceoff takers in the league, but a strong right hand shot (ala Patrice Bergeron or Pageau) is one small area that actually matches well up against Crosby.
Advanced stats matchup
—In the month of April, the power play hasn’t been a pretty sight for the Pens. It’s just 1-for-15 (the lone goal coming last game from Jeff Carter) and they have also given up two goals while on the power play to actually somehow be a negative influence on the games overall...For their power play. Unsurprisingly, Pittsburgh has a 1-4-1 record in the month of April, it’s tough to win when the vaunted power play is actually a drag.
—-Pittsburgh only has averaged 3:54 on the power play in these six April games, just 27th in PO time/game this month. It’s tough to score power play goals when not getting a lot of power play looks (which isn’t just a blame on officials, as Pittsburgh players have cut short their own opportunities at times by taking penalties while up a player).
—For their part, in April, the Islanders are 19/20 killing penalties over the last six games. With only the Carter goal being the only stain on their resume.
And now for the Pens..
Projected Game Lines
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Jeff Carter - Rickard Rakell
Brock McGinn - Teddy Blueger - Evan Rodrigues
Danton Heinen - Brian Boyle - Kasperi Kapanen
Mike Matheson / Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin / John Marino
Mark Friedman / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalies: Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry
Scratches: Marcus Pettersson, Evgeni Malkin (game two of a four game suspension)
IR: Nathan Beaulieu (LTIR)
—The Pens were off yesterday and coach Mike Sullivan admitted that several players are battling illness. Bryan Rust only took two shifts before departing the game, and Evan Rodrigues didn’t last two periods. It seems like with 48 hours, these players might be on the upswing, though probably not 100%.
Milestone and streak watch
- Crosby’s 125 career points against NYI (39G+86A in 76 games) marks the most points he has recorded against a franchise.
- At 77 points this season, Crosby will be looking to get to the 80-point level for the 11th time in his career, which would lead all active players.
- Brian Boyle has eight points (4G+4A) in the last nine home games.
- Teddy Blueger is one goal shy of the 10-goal mark, which would be his first season in double digits.
- Tristan Jarry has nine career regular season wins against the Islanders, no active goalie has more wins since 2017.