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Game Preview: Islanders at Penguins

The Islanders wrap up a back-to-back set on Saturday in Pittsburgh (5 p.m., MSG+, MSG GO)

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders

NEW YORK ISLANDERS (29-29-7) AT PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (36-25-4) 

5 P.M. - PPG PAINTS ARENA

TV: MSG+, MSG GO

RADIO: 88.7FM - WRHU, 660AM/101.9FM - WFAN


Graphic courtesy of Islanders PR

LINEUP NOTES: 

Christopher Gibson will start in goal for the Islanders, making his season debut. Gibson was 18-11-3 this season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, posting a 2.31 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage. Gibson went 1-1-1 in four appearances with the Islanders during the 2015-16 season.

Casey Cizikas missed Friday's game for the birth of his first child, while Jordan Eberle missed the contest with lingering soreness from Wednesday's game. 

UPDATE: Eberle will be a game-time decision, though Doug Weight said he feels good about Eberle's ability to play. If he can't, Ross Johnston will be in the lineup. Casey Cizikas will also play. Dennis Seidenberg and Sebastian Aho are out. 

ISLANDERS PROJECTED LINES:

FORWARDS
LEFT WING CENTER RIGHT WING
ANDERS LEE JOHN TAVARES TANNER FRITZ
ANTHONY BEAUVILLIER MATHEW BARZAL JORDAN EBERLE
ANDREW LADD BROCK NELSON JOSH BAILEY
CHRIS WAGNER CASEY CIZIKAS CAL CLUTTERBUCK
DEFENSE
NICK LEDDY JOHNNY BOYCHUK
ADAM PELECH BRANDON DAVIDSON
THOMAS HICKEY RYAN PULOCK

STANDINGS IMPLICATIONS: 

The Islanders (65 points) are currently four points out of the second wild card with 17 games to play. 

The Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets each have 69 points, but Carolina holds the final playoff spot. The Florida Panthers (68 points) are one point out of the playoffs with three games in hand on the Isles, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets. 

Needless to say, this is a must-win game for the Islanders to keep pace in the playoff chase. 

SEASON SERIES:

The Islanders are 0-1-1 against the Penguins this season, rallying to force overtime in a 4-3 OT loss on Dec. 7 and falling 4-0 at Barclays Center on Jan. 5. Tristan Jarry made 31 saves for the shutout.

BY THE NUMBERS: 

16 - goals for Josh Bailey . Bailey tied his single-season career-high with his 16th goal of the season on Friday. 

7 - lbs., 2 oz. - The weight of Jack William Cizikas, born on Friday night. Congratulations to Casey Cizikas and his wife Kristy. 

4 - game road trip. The Islanders are kicking off a four-game road trip with stops in Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary over the next nine days. 

THE PENGUINS: 

Last Game: L 8-4 at Boston

Leading Scorers:
Goals:
Evgeni Malkin - 36
Assists: Sidney Crosby - 48
Points: Evgeni Malkin - 78

After winning 11-of-13 games in a blistering stretch from late January to late February, the Pittsburgh Penguins have cooled off a bit, losing their last three games. 

They're still near the top of the Metropolitan Division with 76 points - three back of Washington for the division lead - but will be looking to bounce back after an 8-4 loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. 

The Penguins are the most offensively potent team in the Metro, with 212 goals for, one more than the Islanders (211). They're led by three of the NHL's top-15 scorers in Evegni Malkin (78 points), Phil Kessel (72 points) and Sidney Crosby (69). 

Malkin in second in league scoring while Kessel, who is having his best statistical year as a Penguin, is eighth. Tampa Bay is the only other team in the NHL to have two players with over 70 points. 

The Penguins will be without goalie Matt Murray on Saturday, as he's sidelined with a concussion. Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry are manning the crease in Murray's absence.

PENGUINS PROJECTED LINES:

FORWARDS
LEFT WING CENTER RIGHT WING
JAKE GUENTZEL SIDNEY CROSBY BRYAN RUST
CARL HAGELIN EVGENI MALKIN PATRIC HORNQVIST
CONOR SHEARY DERICK BRASSARD PHIL KESSEL
TOM KUHNACKL RILEY SHEAHAN CARTER ROWNEY
DEFENSE
BRIAN DUMOULIN KRIS LETANG
OLLI MAATTA JUSTIN SCHULTZ
MATT HUNWICK JAMIE OLEKSIAK
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