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Islanders-Penguins Preview

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GAME: New York Islanders (32-32-4) at Pittsburgh Penguins (17-40-12).

TIME: Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

After ending a three-game losing streak that dealt a blow to their hopes of a fourth straight trip to the playoffs, the New York Islanders try for their second straight victory when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Islanders have been re-energized in their pursuit of postseason berth after trading several veterans and going with a young lineup that includes eight rookies, but that push hit a snag last week. Following a four-game win streak, New York dropped the last three games on a five-game road trip.

The Isles will have to climb past four teams if they want to capture the final Eastern Conference playoff spot and avoid missing the postseason for the first time since 2000-01. New York had won six of seven before the skid.

The Isles ended the slide Wednesday night with a 3-1 home victory over Montreal, one of the clubs they are battling for the final playoff berth. Rick DiPietro made 33 saves and Robert Nilsson scored to snap a second-period tie for the Islanders.

"I think we're just trying to keep it simple," DiPietro said. "At this point of the season, we have to just trust our system and go out and play."

Sean Bergenheim and Jason Blake also scored for New York. Bergenheim has five points in his last five games.

Pittsburgh, owner of the NHL's worst record, lost for the third time in four games Tuesday, 5-2 at Ottawa. Rookie Colby Armstrong scored a short-handed goal for the Penguins, who lost their sixth in a row to the Senators.

Tomas Surovy scored Pittsburgh's second goal in the third period and fought with Sens rookie Andrej Meszaros late in the period after the defenseman collided awkwardly with Penguins rookie star Sidney Crosby.

"This is one thing for our team, we're sticking up for each other and I think he did the right thing there," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said.

STANDINGS: Islanders - 68 points, 4th place, 20 PB, Atlantic Division. Penguins - 46 points, 5th place, 42 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Islanders - Miroslav Satan, 28 goals; Mike York, 35 assists; Alexei Yashin, 57 points; John Erskine, 115 PIM. Penguins - Crosby, 31 goals, 45 assists and 76 points; Brooks Orpik, 112 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Islanders - Power play: 17.2 percent (64 for 372), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.7 percent (322 for 409), 28th. Penguins - Power play: 17.8 percent (76 for 427), 16th. Penalty killing: 78.0 percent (359 for 460), 29th.

GOALTENDERS: Islanders - DiPietro (26-20-4, 3.11 GAA); Garth Snow (4-9-0, 3.70). Penguins - Marc-Andre Fleury (10-23-5, 1, 3.22); Sebastien Caron (6-7-4, 4.33).

SEASON SERIES: Islanders, 3-1.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 4; Islanders, 5-4. At Pittsburgh, Satan had a hat trick and added a shootout goal, and DiPietro made 20 of his 40 saves in the third period and overtime for the Islanders.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Islanders - 15-18-2 on the road; Penguins - 9-19-7 at home.

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