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GAME PREVIEW: Pittsburgh at Islanders

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders
7:00 pm, FSN; Bloomberg 1130

The Islanders and Penguins meet for the third of their eight matchups this season tonight at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Unlike the last time the teams played at the Coliseum, there will be no Mario or Ziggy for the Penguins. Pittsburgh has seen the retirement of stars Mario Lemieux and Ziggy Palffy in the last two weeks.

For the Islanders, the question is whether Rick DiPietro will start in goal. After Tuesday's 4-0 loss to New Jersey and after practice at the Coliseum on Wednesday, coach Brad Shaw said he was giving serious consideration to playing Wade Dubielewicz in goal and giving Rick DiPietro the night off.

Welcome to tonight's game as the New York Islanders (20-25-3) host the Pittsburgh Penguins (12-29-9). The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:08 pm at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. This is the third of eight meetings between the teams this season.

The officiating crew for tonight's game is Referees Ian Walsh (#29) and Dean Warren (#35) with Linesmen Pierre Champoux (#67) and Mike Cvik (#88). The crew chief of NHL Off-Ice Officials is Jeff Weintraub. Mike Rosen is the Video Goal Judge.

Tonight's US National Anthem singer is Jason Schoenberger.

Tonight's game is being broadcasted locally on FSN with Howie Rose calling the play-by-play and Joe Micheletti on the color commentator. Locally on the radio, John Wiedeman and Chris King have the play-by-play and color commentary, respectively, on Bloomberg 1130 AM.

The Islanders would also like to welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins media attending tonight's game, including: Bob Dvorchak and Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Karen Price and Shawna Richer of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review along with Broadcasters Bob Errey and Mike Lange of the FSN Pittsburgh and Phil Bourque and Paul Steigerwald of Penguins Radio.

- Center Petteri Nokelainen (patella tendonitis) has missed the last 35 games. He's currently on the Injured Reserve retroactive of Nov. 3, 2005.
- Garth Snow (sprained MCLs in both knees) was injured on Jan. 4 and is out 3-4 weeks. He was placed on the Injured Reserve retroactive of Jan. 4.

Total Man-Games Lost (After 48 games): 107

January 20 - Reassigned defenseman Bruno Gervais to Bridgeport (AHL).
January 16 - Recalled forward Jeff Hamilton from Bridgeport and reassigned forward Sean Bergenheim to Bridgeport.

Goals... Mark Parrish, Miroslav Satan - 18
Assists... Alexei Yashin - 25
Points... Alexei Yashin - 41
Penalty Minutes... Arron Asham - 88
Plus/Minus... Jason Blake - +3
Game-Winning Goals... Shawn Bates, Mark Parrish - 4
Power Play Goals... Mark Parrish - 11
Power Play Assists... Alexei Zhitnik - 15
Power Play Points... Alexei Zhitnik - 18
Shots... Jason Blake - 166
Shooting Percentage... Mark Parrish - 23.4%
Time on Ice... Alexei Zhitnik - 24:04 per game
Hits... Trent Hunter - 133

Tonight's game is the 177th regular season meeting and 196th meeting all-time between the Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders currently lead the regular season all-time series 80-69-22-3 and the all-time series (including playoffs) 91-77-22-3. At the Coliseum, the Islanders have a regular season record of 46-20-8-2 versus the Penguins.
This is the third of eight meetings between the teams this season.

Did You Know?
In 72 career games against the Islanders, recently retired Penguin Mario Lemieux scored 50 goals with 81 assists for 131 points and 61 penalty minutes.

2005-06 Season Series:
November, 3, 2005: L 1-5 at Nassau Coliseum
December 21, 2005: W 3-2 (F/SO) at Mellon Arena
** Today ** at Nassau Coliseum - 7:00 pm
February 4, 2006: at Mellon Arena - 2:00 pm
March 24, 2006: at Mellon Arena - 7:30 pm
March 31, 2006: at Nassau Coliseum - 7:00 pm
April 15, 2006: at Nassau Coliseum - 7:00 pm
April 17, 2006: at Mellon Arena - 7:30 pm

When the Penguins host the Islanders on February 4, the game will be broadcasted on NBC. Due to the broadcast, the game has been moved to 2:00 PM from its original start time of 7:30 PM.

Coming into tonight's game, Trent Hunter is third in the league in hits with 133, while Arron Asham is in fifth with 128. Brad Lukowich is third on the team and leads Islanders defensemen with 90. As a team, the Islanders have unloaded 902 hits against their opponents this season. In Tuesday's game, Asham led the team with four hits.

The Islanders have a 3-7-1 record in the month of January this season. The team will play a total of 12 games this month with seven at home and five on the road.

The Islanders are 10-12-1 at home this season. In their most recent game at the Coliseum, the Islanders lost to the New Jersey Devils 0-3. After tonight's game, the Islanders next game at home is January 31 vs. Washington.

- New Jersey was 2-4 on the power play against the Islanders on Tuesday night.
- Overall, the Islanders have killed off 243 of 306 (79.5%) power play attempts this season.
- The Islanders penalty kill is ranked 27th in the league. On the road, the penalty kill is 13th in the league with a percentage of 82.5, while at home they are ranked 30th in the league with a percentage of 76.3.
- The Islanders have recorded four shorthanded goals this season. Jason Blake has scored two (Oct. 13 at Washington, Dec. 30 at Ottawa), while Shawn Bates (Oct. 8 vs. Carolina) and Arron Asham (Oct. 20) have netted one apiece.

- The Islanders were 0-4 on the power play versus at New Jersey on Tuesday night.
- They are 48-283 (17.0%) on the man-advantage and are ranked 19th in the NHL. On the road, the power play is ranked 13th in the league with a conversion rate of 17.2 percent. At home, they rank 23rd in the league with a conversion rate of 16.7 percent.
- Overall, the Islanders have scored a power play goal in 32 of 48 games this season.

The Islanders are 14-8-1 this season when scoring first and 6-16-2 when the opposition scores the first goal of the game. In 2003-04, the Islanders had a record of 27-6-5-1 when they scored the first goal of the game. They were 11-23-6-3 when their opponents scored first.

- The Islanders have been out-shot, 1,573-1424, through 48 games of this season.
- The Islanders have been out-shot in 33 of 48 games this season.
- The Islanders are allowing an average of 32.8 shots per game while taking 29.7 shots on goal per game. Fifteen of the team's 20 victories have come when the team has been out-shot.
- They have a record of 15-15-1 when they have been out-shot and have a record of 4-9-2 in games when they've out-shot the opponent. The Islanders are 1-0-0 in games where they tie their opponents' shot total.
- The Islanders recorded a season-high 40 shots, including 20 in the first period, at Philadelphia on Nov. 10 and tied that mark at Columbus on Dec. 8.

The Islanders have taken the lead into the third period 15 times this season and have a record of 12-2-1. This stretch includes winning in overtime (vs. Bruins, Nov. 1) and winning in the shootout twice (at Rangers, Oct. 19 and at Pittsburgh, Nov. 14). The first loss occurred in the shootout when the Islanders dropped a 4-3 decision to the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 23rd. The second occurred on Dec. 26 at Buffalo while the third occurred at Ottawa on Dec. 30.

- Jason Blake is seven points away from his 200th as an Islander.
- Jason Blake is seven games away from his 400th NHL game.
- Alexei Yashin is one assist away from his 400th NHL assist.

Friday, January 27: Practice at Islanders Iceworks, 10:00 am - 12:30 pm
Saturday, January 28: Game day skate at TDBanknorth Garden, 10:30 am - 11:15 am
Sunday, January 29: Practice at Islanders Iceworks, 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Monday, January 30: Practice at Islanders Iceworks, 10:00 am - 12:30 pm
Tuesday, January 31: Game day skate at Nassau Coliseum, 10:30 am - 11:15 am
Wednesday, February 1: Practice at Nassau Coliseum, 10:00 am - 12:30 pm
Thursday, February 2: Game day skate at Nassau Coliseum, 10:30 am - 11:15 am

NEXT 10 GAMES (all times Eastern)
Thursday, January 26 vs. Pittsburgh, 7:00 pm
Saturday, January 28 at Boston, 7:00 pm
Tuesday, January 31 vs. Washington, 7:00 pm
Thursday, February 2 vs. NY Rangers, 7:00 pm
Saturday, February 4 at Pittsburgh, 7:30 pm
Monday, February 6 vs. Tampa Bay, 7:00 pm
Wednesday, February 8 at Philadelphia, 7:00 pm
Saturday, February 11 at New Jersey, 1:00 pm
Tuesday, February 28 vs. Montreal, 7:00 pm
Thursday, March 2 vs. New Jersey, 7:00 pm

The Islanders Student and Military Savings Program is back for the 2005-06 season. Students and Military can receive up to 50% off select seating to see their New York Islanders in action. Students and Military personnel can purchase $55 seats for $28, $30 seats for $19 and $25 seats for $16. This offer is valid day of game only at Coliseum Box Office with valid I.D. - There will be a limit to two (2) tickets per I.D. - per game.

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