The Pittsburgh Penguins have spent most of the last three weeks alternating wins and losses as they've adjusted to life without injured captain Sidney Crosby.
In that same stretch, the New York Islanders have simply been in a tailspin.
Pittsburgh looks to rebound from a disheartening loss on Thursday when it begins a four-game homestand against the Islanders, who are trying to avoid their first six-game losing streak in more than a year.
The Penguins (29-19-5) looked to be on their way to claiming their second victory in a week in New Jersey on Monday, which would have put them at the top of the crowded Atlantic Division. But Pittsburgh squandered a two-goal, second-period lead, gave up a pair of goals late and eventually lost 4-3 in overtime.
"We let that extra point slip away and it feels like we gift-wrapped two points for them," Penguins goaltender Ty Conklin said. "It's not something you want to do, especially against a divisional opponent."
Coach Michel Therrien showed no hesitation in taking his team to task after blowing an opportunity to gain sole possession of first place in the division.
"It's unacceptable to lose a hockey game like this," Therrien said.
The Penguins are 3-2-2 since Crosby suffered a high ankle sprain on Jan. 18. They haven't won back-to-back games since their eight-game winning streak was snapped on Jan. 12, but they also haven't gone consecutive games without a point since Dec. 11-13.
Evgeni Malkin was playing well before Crosby's injury and hasn't slowed down despite not playing alongside the reigning Hart Trophy winner. Malkin has five goals and six assists in the seven games since Crosby was hurt.
Malkin has been held without a goal in his past 10 games against New York, though he does have seven assists in that span.
The Islanders (24-24-6) have been having plenty of trouble finding the net all season - their 126 goals are the fewest in the league. Their average of 2.33 goals would be the worst in the NHL since the 2004-05 lockout.
Things haven't been looking any better lately. After tying a season high with six goals in a win over Carolina on Jan. 22, New York has scored just five goals in losing its last five games.
Bill Guerin, who leads the team with 18 goals, hasn't scored in his last seven contests.
The Islanders last lost six consecutive games between Dec. 26, 2006-Jan. 6, 2007.
Their latest defeat came in their fourth shutout loss, 3-0 to defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim on Tuesday. It also dropping them to 1-6-1 in their last eight games.
"The bottom line is we have to win games," goaltender Rick DiPietro said. "We were better (against the Ducks), but we still have to stay out of the penalty box."
New York has been shorthanded 255 times, putting it among the five most penalized teams in the league. The Penguins have one of the top five power plays in the league, converting 20.1 percent of the time, including four times in 10 tries in their last two games.
As the Islanders have struggled to score, DiPietro has struggled between the pipes recently. He's 0-5-1 in his last six starts with a 3.83 goals-against average.
DiPietro is 9-6-0 in his career against the Penguins, but has a 3.34 GAA.
New York and Pittsburgh have split four meetings, with each winning once on the road. The Penguins have scored a power-play goal in each contest.