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Penguins vs. Islanders

Posted On Saturday, 05.11.2013 / 7:12 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Nielsen, Nelson in lineup for Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders center Frans Nielsen is in the lineup Saturday for Game 6 of his team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Nielsen, who centers the Islanders' second line and plays on both special teams, left Game 5 on Thursday with a lower-body injury and didn't skate Friday.

Rookie Brock Nelson is making his NHL debut, taking the place of healthy scratch Jesse Joensuu.

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Posted On Saturday, 05.11.2013 / 2:59 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Vokoun, Kennedy provide enviable depth for Penguins

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- With the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins tied 2-2 in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the underdog New York Islanders, Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma decided it was time to make changes to his lineup. Fortunately for him, his team's deep roster included the kind of veteran players any team would want.

The big move was naming veteran backup goaltender Tomas Vokoun the team's starter for Game 5 on Thursday in Pittsburgh. The switch was made after regular starter Marc-Andre Fleury struggled badly in Pittsburgh's 6-4 Game 4 loss.

For any team, naming a new starting goaltender midway through a Stanley Cup Playoff series would be controversial. But not every team has a backup goaltender with 300 career NHL wins under his belt.

Vokoun made 31 saves for the shutout in Pittsburgh's Game 5 win and will start again for the Penguins in Game 6 Saturday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

"Throughout this season for us, he's been a guy who, not only in the games but off the ice as well, has been a leader," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said of Vokoun. "When he's gotten in there, he tends to have a calming influence with how he plays and dictates the game. He's been that for us and I thought in Game 5 he gave that for our team."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.11.2013 / 1:55 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Penguins looking to close out Islanders in Game 6

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- A convincing 4-0 win against the New York Islanders in Game 5 on Thursday at home shifted momentum squarely toward the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins.

But coach Dan Bylsma made it very clear before Game 6 here Saturday night (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS) he had no intention of bringing their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series back to Pittsburgh for a winner-take-all Game 7 on Sunday.

"That is our mentality. We don't have six periods, we just have three," Bylsma said following the team's morning skate Saturday. "The fourth game is the hardest to win and we expect the very best from their team [Saturday]. We have to be ready for that."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.11.2013 / 1:49 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Islanders have confidence in Nabokov

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Evgeni Nabokov's first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2010 has had its ups and downs. Though he's been pulled by New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano in Games 1 and 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nabokov will be back in goal for Game 6 on Saturday at Nassau Coliseum (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Capuano left no doubts that Nabokov remains his man, even though he has a 4.69 goals-against average and .847 save percentage.

"He's gotten us here. He's played a lot of hockey for us down the stretch," Capuano said of Nabokov, who was 23-11-7 in the regular season, with a 2.50 GAA and .910 save percentage. "He's a veteran guy with experience. I think if you look at the last two months, I thought defensively we were pretty good, pretty solid, and he was a big reason why."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.11.2013 / 1:22 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Islanders expect another boost from home crowd

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders' return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs has brought the noise back to Nassau Coliseum. They hope the roars that raised the roof of the old barn on Hempstead Turnpike in Games 3 and 4 will help them win Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

The Coliseum is the oldest non-renovated facility in the NHL. It's small (16,170 capacity) and lacks the amenities of newer buildings. But its low roof means that the noise generated by a packed house has nowhere to go but back toward the ice. The result is the kind of noise you rarely hear in a newer, larger building.

"Playing at home for us has been great," Islanders captain Mark Streit said after the morning skate Saturday. "The fans have been unbelievable. It's been so loud and energizing in here. It's a big advantage for us."

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Posted On Friday, 05.10.2013 / 6:50 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Crosby honored to be Hart Trophy finalist

Not even missing the Pittsburgh Penguins' last 12 regular-season games was enough to keep captain Sidney Crosby from being named a finalist for the Hart Trophy, given to the NHL's regular-season MVP.

Despite missing the last quarter of the season, Crosby joined Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and John Tavares of the New York Islanders as the three finalists.


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Posted On Friday, 05.10.2013 / 6:30 PM

By Mike Battaglino -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Islanders in familiar must-win situation

The New York Islanders find themselves in a must-win situation Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, facing elimination in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

The Islanders are familiar with the scenario, playing almost an entire month of must-win games as they battled for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.09.2013 / 8:47 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Crosby leaves Game 5 with injury

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby went to the dressing room with two minutes to play in the second period of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Islanders after blocking a shot with his left foot.

The team provided no immediate update on his condition or status.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.09.2013 / 3:02 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Kennedy, Vitale likely to make debuts for Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- If, as many believe, speed is the area in which the Pittsburgh Penguins are at a distinct disadvantage against the New York Islanders, Dan Bylsma appears to have decided to do something about it.

The Penguins coach had Tyler Kennedy and Joe Vitale taking part in line rushes, and Simon Despres was paired with Norris Trophy finalist Kris Letang for the morning skate Thursday in advance of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series that is tied two games apiece.

Keeping with his policy, Bylsma did not discuss his lineup with the media. But Kennedy and Vitale were talking as if they were on the verge of making their 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs debuts.

"For sure, excited to get back out there, excited to get with the guys," Vitale said. "It's been tough watching in the press box, as anyone will tell you.

"I'm not going to change anything. My game is pretty simple: a lot of speed, lot of energy, some tenacity, be responsible in the defensive zone, and kind of be a lift for the guys."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.09.2013 / 2:13 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Islanders will feel MacDonald's loss in many ways

PITTSBURGH -- With more than 23 minutes of ice time per game suddenly gone from the New York Islanders blue line, more than one defenseman will have to step up.

Andrew MacDonald, who led the Islanders in average ice time throughout the regular season, is out with an injury that Newsday reported is a broken hand that will keep him out for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As New York preps to face the No. 1 seed Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 5 Thursday night (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN), a sizable hole must be plugged.

"It's a big loss," veteran defenseman Radek Martinek said. "You can't replace a guy like that. Just you have to fill in the best you can."

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