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New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders

Team Record: 3-3-0

Last Game: 4-2 L vs. FLA
Season Series: 0-0-0 of 6
Team Record: 6-2-2
Last Game: 4-1 W vs. NJD
Season Series: 0-0-0 of 6
Travis Hamonic
Just beginning his sophomore campaign, Hamonic has already been a big part of the Islanders defense, scoring 5 goals, 21 assists in 62 games his rookie season. He's become a key part of the defense and his average ice time per game (22:22) is second on the team - only behind Captain Mark Streit.

"He’s one of the guys who really jumps into the offense as good as anybody we have," Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. "He possesses a big shot. So not only defensively has he really helped us, playing against other teams top lines, but at the same time he gives us the offense we need from the blue line."

Though he's only put up one assist in the first six games, he's fired six shotas and has been a force on the Islanders blue line.
James Neal
Neal put up career-high numbers (55 points) in 2009-10, but last season, the former second-round draft pick was dealt in a trade deadline transaction from the Dallas Stars.

Entering his fourth-year pro, and first full season with the Penguins, Neal - like the rest of his teammates - is off to a good start. He's scored 8 goals and 1 assist for 9 points in the Penguins first 10 games this season.

Without names like Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin in the lineup, some of their other players have been asked to step up. So far, Neal has been a big factor as his scoring abilities have been a large part of Pittsburgh's success early on this season.
The Islanders got off to a fast start, beginning the season with a 3-1-0 record at home. But their first road trip of the 2011-12 season didn't go the way they'd anticipated as they dropped both games in Florida.

As the Islanders returned home to Long Island, they’d need to prepare for a home-and-home against the Pittsburgh Penguins, are 6-2-2.

“I think every time we play Pittsburgh it’s a big game,” Islanders forward PA Parenteau said. “It’s a division game. At this day and age every game is a rivalry, you have to get two points no matter how, no matter what.”

Rivalry definitely comes to mind. The Islanders-Penguins game on Feb. 11 of last season is one that instantaneously became a memory that fans will talk about for the next decade. In their eyes, that notorious game - marked by 346 penalty minutes - sparked a rivalry that would live forever.

However, that rivalry is one that the team would like to put aside so that they can focus on winning, which starts by doing all the small things.

“The last two games we played, we didn’t play as well as we wanted,” Parenteau said. “It’s about us, not about the other team on the other side. It’s about how we are going to come out and how we are going to prepare for this game.”
Season Series: This is the first of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals. Pittsburgh went 4-1-1 against the Isles last season, including the most recent meeting, a 4-3 shootout decision at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 8.

Big Story: It appears as though the injury bug won't be leaving the Steel City any time soon. The Penguins suffered another huge blow Monday, when coach Dan Bylsma announced defenseman Zbynek Michalek broke his finger during Saturday's 4-1 win against New Jersey and will miss 4-6 weeks.

Pittsburgh has already played segments of this season without superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, as well as Dustin Jeffrey, Tyler Kennedy and Brooks Orpik. (Continue Reading)

Trailing 2-0 from goals by Michael Rupp and Zbynek Michalek at the midway point in the game held at Nassau Coliseum on April 8, 2011, Islanders forward Blake Comeau responded with two unanswered goals and evened the score. Mark Letestu retook the Penguins lead midway through the third, but rookie defenseman Travis Hamonic put up his fifth goal of the season to send the game into overtime with 35 seconds left in regulation. The game remained tied through the five-minute extra session and Chris Kunitz scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Penguins the victory. Al Montoya made 35 saves in the effort.
- Milan Jurcina - Groin (9/27 at CGY) - 6 games missed (Day-to-day)
- Mark Katic - Shoulder (9/24 vs. NJ) - 6 games missed (Out indefinitely)
- Rhett Rakhshani - Concussion (9/27 at CGY) - 6 games missed (Out indefinitely)
- Nino Niederreiter - Groin (9/30 at NJ) - 6 games missed (Day-to-day)
Power Play %: 20.0%
Penalty Kill %: 91.7%
Home Record: 3-1-0
Road Record: 0-2-0
Goals For: 14
Goals Against: 14
Power Play %: 20.9%
Penalty Kill %: 97.0%
Home Record: 3-1-1
Road Record: 3-1-1
Goals For: 30
Goals Against: 22

(Answer from 10/22: On Feb. 16, 2008, the Islanders outshot the Atlanta Thrashers 49-10 en route to a 4-1 victory.)
Check out the Islanders depth chart. Nabokov starts, DiPietro backs up; Montoya, Jurcina and Gillies are the scratches.

Penguins Lineups
from Practice 10/24
Forwards: Kunitz-Staal-Dupuis, Sullivan-Malkin-Neal, Cooke-Park-Asham, Jeffrey-(Crosby)-Adams, Letestu-Vitale-MacIntyre

Defensemen: Martin-Letang, Orpik-Engelland, Niskanen-Lovejoy

Goaltenders: Fleury, Johnson

Expected Scratches: Michalek and two additional forwards listed above. Crosby is still on the injured reserved list. According to the Penguins website, Malkin has not been ruled out.

Even though the Islanders lost their first two games on the road, defenseman Andrew MacDonald was able to take away a few positives. He said, "Well we had a pretty successful power play for the most part. We had some really good looks and good zone time and movement. Obviously, we had two goals from it and hit a post or two there in the third. We had opportunities and that’s pretty important."

He added, "Our penalty kill was strong and there were parts of the game where we did play well and we got our forecheck and established a little zone time, just the consistency of it wasn’t there enough. It really hurt us those two games on the trip. When the score is 2-2 going into the third it’s a pretty good situation for a road team and we faltered. We had a pretty solid third, but couldn’t come out with it. It’s frustrating, but luckily it’s early enough in the year that we can learn from it."

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