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Game Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins @ New York Islanders 12/27/2023 - Lines, how to watch

Hockey is back!

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (15-13-4, 34 points, 7th place Metropolitan Division) @ New York Islanders (16-8-9, 41 points, 2nd place Metropolitan Division)

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: MSGSN, SN-PIT

Pens’ Path Ahead: The Penguins finish the year with a back-to-back home set, facing the St. Louis Blues Saturday before returning for a rematch against the Islanders Sunday.

Opponent Track: The Islanders have earned points in nine of their last 10 games (6-1-3.) Most recently they funded off a late surge by the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday to win 5-4 in regulation.

Season Series: This is the first time the Pens have run into the Isles this season. After the New Year’s Eve rematch, these two teams will meet twice more in February and in the April regular-season finale.

Hidden Stat: Only one player has more career points than Sidney Crosby (132) against the Islanders. That would be Jaromir Jagr (155.)

Getting to know the Islanders

Projected lines (from Saturday’s game)

FORWARDS

Anders Lee - Bo Horvat - Mathew Barzal

Pierre Engvall - Brock Nelson - Kyle Palmieri

Simon Holmström - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Julien Guathier

Hudson Fasching - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

DEFENSEMEN

Alexander Romanov - Noah Dobson

Mike Reilly - Sebastian Aho

Samuel Bolduc - Robert Bortuzzo

Goalies: Ilya Sorokin - Semyon Varlamov

Possible scratches: Oliver Wahlstrom, Matt Martin

IR: Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield, Adam Pelech

  • Despite the Islanders’ recent record, this is a team plagued by significant injuries. Adam Pelech, Scott Mayfield and Ryan Pulock were all skating more than 19 minutes per night before they went on IR. The Islanders’ biggest question right now is if their defensive depth can hold up until those three return, and Noah Dobson has been helping by having the best season of his career so far. Not only is he producing at a point-per-game pace (5-29—34 through 33 games), he is leading all Islanders blueliners with more than 25 minutes on the ice per night.
  • The acquisition of Bo Horvat last season has allowed the Isles to move Mat Barzal to the wing, where he is now on track for his first point-per-game season since his 2017-18 Calder Trophy-winning rookie campaign.
  • Matt Martin hasn’t been in the Isles lineup since November 15. He moved off the IR last week but has yet to play, likely in part because Hudson Fasching has been solid in his absence.

Player stats

(via hockeydb)

  • The Islanders have been getting something the Penguins have been struggling with all season: production from their bottom six. After scoring six goals and nine points in his rookie 2022-23 season, third-line winger Simon Holmström already has 10 goals through 32 games.
  • The Isles have one of the top-five power plays in the NHL, but have struggled on the penalty kill this season. It dipped to below a 70 percent effectiveness rate during a seven-game losing streak in November and has yet to recover, operating at a league-worst 71 percent and playing a hand in recent extra-time losses to the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins. (On the other hand, the unit is tied for the second-most shorthanded goals in the league with eight.)

And now for the Penguins

Projected lines (from Saturday’s game)

FORWARDS

Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Rickard Rakell

Reilly Smith - Evgeni Malkin - Valtteri Puustinen

Radim Zohorna - Lars Eller - Drew O’Connor

Jansen Harkins - Noel Acciari - Jeff Carter

DEFENSEMEN

Marcus Pettersson / Kris Letang

Ryan Graves / Erik Karlsson

John Ludvig / Chad Ruhwedel

Goalies: Tristan Jarry, Alex Nedeljkovic

Potential scratches: P.O. Joseph, Vinnie Hinostroza

IR: Matt Nieto (lower body injury), Bryan Rust (week-to-week injury)

  • Look out for injury updates early today.

Milestone watch

  • Erik Karlsson remains one assist away from No. 600. He is set to become the fifth-fastest active NHL player to reach the milestone if he makes it in Game No. 952 tonight. (The player to beat is Claude Giroux, who made it in Game No. 973, per Pens PR.)
  • Sidney Crosby is one goal away from his 15th 20-goal season. Among active players, only Alex Ovechkin has more.