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Game Preview: Islanders at Penguins

The Islanders and Penguins meet in a Metropolitan Division showdown

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders
New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins
7 p.m. PGG Paints Arena
TV: MSG+
Radio: 660AM WFAN, 88.7FM WRHU, 103.9FM LI News

The New York Islanders take on the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night at CONSOL Energy Center. The Islanders are looking to bounce back after a 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, while the Penguins are coming off a win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. 

This is the first of four meetings between the Metropolitan Division rivals this season. 

Back To Back: 

The best way to get over a loss? Get right back out on the ice the next night. 

The Islanders get that chance on Thursday, wrapping up a back-to-back set on Thursday night in Pittsburgh, taking on the reigning Stanley Cup Champions for the first time this season. 

The Islanders have played one set of back-to-back games so far this season, losing the front end and winning the back end. Last season, the Islanders were 5-5-5 in the front end of back-to-backs and 9-3-3 in the back half. 

Kulemin Day-To-Day: 

Nikolay is considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Kulemin suffered the injury against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night, left practice on Tuesday due to soreness and did not suit up on Wednesday, despite taking morning skate. 

Mathew Barzal took Kulemin's spot in the lineup on Wednesday. 

Crosby Is Back: 

After sitting out the Penguins' first six games of the season with a concussion, Sidney Crosby returned to action on Tuesday night in a 3-2 win against the Florida Panthers. The Penguins' captain didn't miss a beat, scoring in his return to the lineup.

Crosby was the league's third-leading scorer last season, with 85 points (36G, 49A) in 80 games. In Crosby's absence, Evgeni Malkin and Matt Cullen lead the Penguins with six points apiece. 

Murray Nearing Return, Looking to Make First Start:

Matt Murray was a sensation for the Penguins in the Cup run last spring and looked to be on his way to the starting job this season in Pittsburgh. That was until he suffered a right thumb injury at the World Cup of Hockey before the season, which has kept him out until now. 

Murray backed up Marc-Andre Fleury on Tuesday night and is reportedly eager to make his season debut. If he's healthy enough to dress, he's healthy enough to play, so that debut is coming shortly.

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