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Crosby returns as Islanders look to bounce back

by John Kreiser


(Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series 1-0)


Big story: The Pittsburgh Penguins will have Sidney Crosby back in the lineup for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Islanders. They didn't miss him in Game 1, completely outplaying the Islanders in a 5-0 victory. Now they try to take a two-game lead in the best-of-7 series before it shifts to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for games Sunday and Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Islanders: The only positive the Islanders can take from Game 1 is that it was only one game. New York was dominated for almost the entire 60 minutes Wednesday night and generated only sporadic pressure while the Penguins were all over them. The Islanders looked nothing like the team that went 11-1-2 down the stretch to earn its first Stanley Cup Playoff berth since 2007.

One key for the Islanders in Game 2 will be to avoid dwelling on their poor showing in Game 1.

"That's behind us," captain Mark Streit told the media after Thursday's practice at Consol Energy Center. "We lost. They played a strong game, and now it's time to move forward and really concentrate on the next game."

Penguins: The stat sheet said the Islanders outhit the Penguins 41-36 in the opener, but the Penguins' physical dominance was apparent almost from the opening faceoff. The Penguins were all over the Islanders' defenders in the offensive zone, swarmed their skill players in the Pittsburgh zone, and won puck battles all over the ice.

Forward Brenden Morrow wants that to continue in Game 2.

"If we can slow them down by playing physical against them, wear them down, make them have to fight for every inch on the ice, then I think that's kind of what our focus is with a lot of their players," he said after practice Thursday.

Who's hot: Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis, who usually plays on the wing with Crosby, had a pair of goals without him in Game 1. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 26 shots for the sixth playoff shutout of his career, his first since 2011.

Injury report: The Islanders report no injuries, though goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was using a backup mask Thursday after a shot by Jarome Iginla in Game 1 took a chunk out of his helmet. … Crosby (broken jaw) will be playing for the first time since March 30 when he was hit by a deflected puck in a game against the Islanders. Coach Dan Bylsma had no update on forward James Neal, who left Game 1 with a lower-body injury and didn't practice Thursday. Defenseman Brooks Orpik, who sat out Game 1 with a lower-body injury, skated for a second straight day and may be close to returning.

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