NEW YORK ISLANDERS (36-20-7) VS. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (34-23-8)
7:30 P.M. BARCLAYS CENTER, NBCSN, WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM, BUY TICKETS
1. METRO STANDINGS:
While the New York Islanders 6-1-0 road trip didn’t move them up in the Metropolitan Division standings, they’ve certainly put themselves in a good position to start the stretch run.
The Islanders are three points back of the New York Rangers with three games in hand and are three points up on the Pittsburgh Penguins with two games in hand.
A win over the Penguins on Tuesday night won’t catapult the Islanders over the Rangers, but it would create good separation from the surging Pens. At this point, pushing teams down the ladder is just as important as climbing up it.
“That’s the way the standings are, they’ve been tight all year,” John Tavares said. “Pittsburgh has come on strong in the last couple of months… You can’t take a night off, there’s no room for it.
2. ISLES-PENGUINS II:
Tuesday is the second of four meetings between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins this season. Pittsburgh took the first meeting 5-2 on Jan. 2, taking a 5-0 lead before the Islanders got on the board. The Penguins offensive stars all contributed: Sidney Crosby had a pair of goals, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang each had three assists, while Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist each scored a goal.
Nick Leddy scored his first goal of the season in the loss.
The Islanders have won four of their last five meetings with the Penguins.
3. PENGUINS PUSHING:
After laying an egg in December, the Pittsburgh Penguins have found their groove.
The Penguins are 13-6-1 in their last 20 games after going 7-9-4 in the previous 20. More recently, the Penguins have won four of their last six games, winning key divisional battles against the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils in the process.
“We’re going to have to be at our best, they are highly skilled,” Jack Capuano said. “They are playing the best hockey I’ve seen any team play right now. When you have your top guys going like they are going right now and they are healthy, it’s going to be a real challenge for us.”
4. CROSBY STREAKING:
Sidney Crosby is back to being Sidney Crosby.
The Penguins’ captain has nine points (3G, 6A) on a five-game point streak and leads his team with 28 goals and 65 points.
That comes after Crosby, a two-time scoring champion and league MVP, started the season with five points in the first 11 games of the season. Crosby came alive around mid-December, scoring 40 of his 65 points since Dec. 18.
“He got off probably a start that no one really expected, even himself,” Tavares said of Crosby. “His track record is proven of what he’s been able to do in this league for a long time and really his whole life. There was no doubt amongst players across the league and people involved in the game that he would get back to the way he can play and his production and whatnot. Any time we play them, we have to be aware of what he can do.”