(Sports Network) - The New York Islanders will aim for a third straight win in
the Steel City, as they kick off a three-game road trip Sunday by battling the
streaking Pittsburgh Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center.
After splitting a pair of meetings with the Islanders this season, Pittsburgh
has won six of nine and eight of 12 in this series. However, New York has won
two straight on the road against the Penguins after dropping its previous 13
games in Pittsburgh.
The Islanders recorded a 4-1 win at Pittsburgh on Jan. 29. New York goaltender
Evgeni Nabokov played a crucial role in that game, stopping 37-of-38 shots.
The Penguins later responded with a 4-2 win at the Islanders on Feb. 5.
New York enters Sunday's matchup having won three of its last four games and
has recorded at least a point in five straight contests (3-0-2).
The Isles used a strong third period Saturday afternoon to take down the
visiting Washington Capitals. John Tavares scored a pair of power-play goals
just 30 seconds apart in the final stanza, propelling New York to a 5-2
decision at Nassau Coliseum.
The Capitals tied the score at 2-2 on Nicklas Backstrom's marker with 12:51
left in the third, but Tavares scored with 7:47 left in regulation and added
another marker with 7:17 remaining.
Washington's Mike Ribeiro was given a pair of minors at the 8:48 mark to set
up Tavares' first goal. Shortly after that the Isles' star centerman then
capitalized on Jeff Schultz's double-minor for high-sticking.
Josh Bailey and Casey Cizikas also scored for New York, which received 22
saves from Nabokov.
The Isles ended their seven-game homestand with a 3-2-2 record and the club
kicks off a three-game road trip on Sunday. New York has won its last two away
from the Coliseum and is 6-3-1 as the guest this season.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has won four straight to begin the month of March and
has posted victories in nine of its past 12 games. As a result, the Penguins
have opened a seven-point lead over New Jersey for first place in the Atlantic
Division and are just two back of Montreal for the top seed in the East.
The Pens received a scare from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, but
despite blowing an early lead were able to record a 5-4 shootout win at Air
Canada Centre. James Neal and Sidney Crosby scored in the shootout to help the
Penguins secure two points on the road.
Neal finished the first round with a shot between the pads of Leafs goaltender
James Reimer, and after Marc-Andre Fleury flashed his pad to stop Nazem Kadri,
Crosby ended the game with a high wrister.
"I wasn't happy giving up four goals, so I wanted to make sure we got those
two points at the end," said Fleury.
Neal, Paul Martin, Crosby and Pascal Dupuis tallied in regulation for the
Penguins, while Fleury did just enough for the win, recording 22 saves.
Pittsburgh led the game by a 3-1 count after one period and was up 4-3 heading
into the third before Toronto's Phil Kessel tied it at 4-4 with 4:20 remaining
Evgeni Malkin left Saturday's game with what the team is calling an upper-body
injury after taking a hard hit from Toronto's James van Riemsdyk in the third
period. He returned briefly before sitting out the last few minutes of
regulation, overtime and the shootout.
Malkin recently missed four games with a concussion before returning to action
on March 4. Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma didn't specify Malkin's injury and
it's unclear if he will play Sunday.
"He'll certainly be re-evaluated," Bylsma said. "In the game, it was more
precautionary than anything at that point in time."
Malkin has 24 points on five goals and 19 assists this season.
The Pens are playing two straight and five of their next six on home ice.
Pittsburgh has actually fared better on the road this season, however, going
11-4-0 as the guest compared to a 6-4-0 mark at CONSOL Energy Center.
The Sports Network