NEW YORK ISLANDERS (21-12-5) VS. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (18-15-4)
7 P.M. CONSOL ENERGY CENTER, MSG2+, CHANNEL FINDER, WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM
1. BOYCHUK ON IR, PELECH RECALLED:
Johnny Boychuk (upper body) was placed on the Islanders’ injured reserve list on Friday morning. Boychuk crashed into the end boards in the third period of Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres and did not return. A timetable will be established next week when Boychuk sees team doctors. Boychuk leads Islanders defensemen with 14 points (3G, 11A) this season. Adam Pelech was recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday morning.
2. HALAK JOINS ISLES ON TRIP:
Jaroslav Halak (upper body) joined the Islanders in Buffalo, but would still have to be taken off the team’s injured reserve list to be available to play on Saturday or Sunday. Thomas Greiss has started the Islanders’ last three games (going 2-1-0) and has been backed up by Christopher Gibson.
3. ISLANDERS VS PENGUINS:
The Metropolitan Division rivals meet for the first of four meetings this season. The Islanders went 4-1-0 against the Penguins last season, going 2-1-0 at CONSOL Energy Center. The Islanders are on a four-game winning streak vs. the Penguins, their longest streak since winning five in a row in 1986. Kyle Okposo scored four goals against the Penguins on Jan. 16, the top individual performance against Pittsburgh last season.
4. PENGUINS :
The Penguins (18-15-4) are currently fifth in the Metropolitan Division with 40 points, three points back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins have scored the second fewest goals in the Eastern Conference (86), an unexpected outcome given the fact they have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin (two Art Ross Trophy winners) and added five-time, 30-goal scorer in Phil Kessel.
Crosby has 27 points (9G, 18A) in 36 games, putting the Penguins captain on pace for his first season under a point-per-game. He has picked up his scoring pace of late, with eight points (3G, 5A) in his last six games. Malkin leads the Penguins with 34 points (18G, 16A) in 37 games and is 14th in league scoring.
The Penguins slow start led to a coaching change, as Mike Sullivan took over for Mike Johnston on December 12. The Penguins are 3-5-1 under Sullivan.