NEW YORK ISLANDERS (38-21-8) VS. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (36-24-8)
7 P.M. CONSOL ENERGY CENTER, MSG+, WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM
1. ISLES-PENS III:
After splitting their first two meetings, the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins hook up for the third time this season. The home team has won the first two contests this season, with the Islanders most recently winning 2-1 on March 8 at Barclays Center. The Islanders lost a key player in the win, as Jaroslav Halak suffered a lower-body injury in the closing minutes.
2. WHAT IT MEANS:
A win in Pittsburgh would accomplish two objectives for the Islanders. A win – combined with a Rangers loss in Anaheim – propels the Islanders into second place in the Metropolitan Division and creates separation from the Penguins, who are lurking four points behind in the first Wild Card berth.
3. BERUBE COULD START:
Given Jack Capuano’s habit of playing both his goalies in back-to-back situations, there’s a chance JF Berube is between the pipes for the Islanders on Tuesday. Berube has played two games for the Islanders this season, picking up his first-career NHL win on Feb. 2 against the Minnesota Wild.
“I’ve been staying ready,” Berube said on Friday. “In practices I work hard and do the things I have to do to be ready and jump in. Obviously you never want to see a guy go down, but that’s part of the game and why we are carrying three goalies. I’m ready and I’m really excited for the opportunity.”
4. MALKIN OUT 6-8 WEEKS:
Evgeni Malkin will miss the next six-to-eight weeks with an upper-body injury, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced on Saturday.
It’s an injury that will keep Malkin out for the rest of the season and into the at least the first round of the playoffs. It’s a crushing blow considering Malkin is the Penguins’ second-leading scorer with 58 points (27G, 31A) in 57 games this season. Pittsburgh’s depth will be tested, but the Penguins are deeper than most at forward, with talents like Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist and Chris Kunitz all still in the lineup.
5. PENGUINS MARCHING:
Even with Malkin out, the Penguins have continued their march into the playoffs. Pittsburgh has won two straight – beating Columbus and the Rangers – and three of their last four, their only loss coming to the Islanders on March 8.
The Penguins are putting the heat on the Islanders and Rangers as the season winds down. Pittsburgh (80 points) is four points behind the Islanders and five behind the Rangers. The Penguins haven’t clinched anything yet, as the Philadelphia Flyers – who are out of the playoffs – are four points back with a game in hand.
If the playoffs started today, the Penguins would match up against the Boston Bruins.