New York Islanders (34-26-12) at Pittsburgh Penguins (46-17-9)
7 p.m. PPG Paints Arena
Radio: AM970 - The Answer, 88.7FM - WRHU, 103.9FM - LI News
Game Notes, Morning Skate Updates
The New York Islanders control their own destiny as they start a pivotal back-to-back in Pittsburgh on Friday night (7 p.m., MSG+).
The Islanders (80 points) are two points behind the Boston Bruins (82 points) for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference, but the Islanders hold two games in hand.
A win in Pittsburgh allows the Isles to keep control of their own destiny and tie the Bruins in points. New York and Boston face off on Saturday at Barclays Center, which will be a huge game regardless of Friday's outcome.
Tampa Bay beat Boston on Thursday night and while that result was beneficial as the Isles chase down the Bruins, the Lightning (79 points) now sit one point back of the Islanders.
It's an unsettled situation heading into the last 10 games of the season, but as of Friday morning, the Islanders just need to take care of their own business if they want to make the playoffs.
Islanders Recall Halak:
The New York Islanders recalled Jaroslav Halak from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Thursday, adding a reinforcement to their crease ahead of a crucial back-to-back set.
Halak is expected to start one of the next two games and could be in net against Pittsburgh on Friday. Halak was assigned to Bridgeport on Dec. 31, going 17-7-3 with a 2.15 GAA and a .925SV% with the Sound Tigers.
"I'm happy to be back," Halak said after joining the Islanders for practice in Pittsburgh. "I'm just going to try to help the guys and we'll see what happens. I know we've got a crazy schedule coming up and any point is valuable for getting to the playoffs."
Read more at Isles Day-To-Day
The Islanders will be without Ryan Strome on Friday night and for the foreseeable future.
Strome left Wednesday's game with an upper-body injury and did not return. Strome did not make the trip to Pittsburgh and Doug Weight figures he'll be out at least two weeks, but probably longer.
"He won't be with us through the weekend and I'm guessing a week or two out of that at the minimum," Weight said on Thursday. "So we're hoping for the best today. I can tell you anytime from 2-16 weeks. I'm hoping it's not as bad as we initially thought, but certainly going to be a little bit of time for Ryan and a tough time of year for him."
Strome has 30 points (13G, 17A) in 69 games this season, including 16 points (7G, 9A) in 30 games under Weight.
Alan Quine, Shane Prince and Stephen Gionta are the Islanders extra forwards.
Penguins Banged Up:
The Pittsburgh Penguins are dealing with a rash of injuries, as Kris Letang (upper-body), Evgeni Malkin (upper-body), Olli Maatta (hand), Carl Hagelin (lower body), Ron Hainsey (upper-body), Trevor Daley (knee) and more were all out for Thursday's game.
Of course, even with the numerous injuries, the Penguins still boast NHL goals leader Sidney Crosby (41G, 40A), Phil Kessel (22G, 41A) and goalies Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Penguins are 7-2-1 over their last 10 games, though they are coming off a 2-1 shootout loss in Ottawa last night. With 101 points, Pittsburgh is third in the Metropolitan Division and three points behind the Washington Capitals for top spot in the division and Eastern Conference.
The Islanders are 1-1-1 in three games against the Penguins this season.