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Preview: Islanders at Penguins

Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang will miss fourth straight game, goalie Jaroslav Halak starts for New York

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

ISLANDERS (3-4-0) at PENGUINS (4-2-1)

7 p.m. ET; ROOT, MSG+, NHL.TV

Islanders team scope

The status of New York Islanders forward Nikolay Kulemin for the game at PPG Paints Arena is unknown. Kulemin sustained an upper-body injury against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday and missed New York's 3-2 home loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. Kulemin, who is listed as day-to-day, left practice early on Tuesday. Rookie forward Mathew Barzal dressed Wednesday with Kulemin out and centered the third line between Alan Quine and Ryan Strome, who shifted to right wing from center. "Brock [Nelson], John [Tavares] and Casey [Cizikas] have played extremely well down the middle with the system that we've implemented with our exits and how we want to get out of our zone," Capuano told the team website Wednesday when asked why Strome was moved. The Islanders did not hold a morning skate Thursday. Goalie Jaroslav Halak is likely to start against the Pittsburgh Penguins after Thomas Greiss played Wednesday. Halak is 2-2-0 with a 2.77 goals-against average and .905 save percentage in four starts this season.

 

Penguins team scope

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will miss his fourth consecutive game with an upper-body injury sustained against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 28. Coach Mike Sullivan said there is no definitive timetable for Letang's return, but Pittsburgh's defensive leader is "getting a whole lot closer." Letang participated in the morning skate after practicing Wednesday. "I'm getting excited, obviously," Letang said. "I just want to be healthy." Letang rotated with defensemen Olli Maatta and Trevor Daley on a defense pairing at the morning skate. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin also skated after taking a maintenance day on Wednesday. Dumoulin, who received stitches inside and outside his mouth, is expected to play after taking a puck to the face late in the first period of Pittsburgh's 3-2 win against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. The Penguins are expected to move forward Phil Kessel to center Evgeni Malkin's right wing, breaking up the "HBK Line" of Nick Bonino centering for left wing Carl Hagelin and Kessel. Pittsburgh has shifted Kessel to Malkin's right at times during the past three games, but has yet to begin a game with that configuration. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has gone 4-2-1 this season, is expected to start for the eighth time in as many games. Goalie Matt Murray will dress as his backup for the second time since returning on Tuesday after recovering from a broken hand sustained Sept. 19 while competing for Team North America in the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

 

Islanders projected lineup

Andrew Ladd -- John Tavares -- Josh Bailey

Anders Lee -- Brock Nelson -- Anthony Beauvillier

Alan Quine -- Mathew Barzal-- Ryan Strome

Jason Chimera -- Casey Cizikas -- Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy -- Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey -- Johnny Boychuk

Calvin de Haan -- Dennis Seidenberg

Jaroslav Halak

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Jean-Francois Berube

Injured  Shane Prince (lower body), Ryan Pulock (lower body), Nikolay Kulemin (upper body)

 

Penguins projected lineup

Scott Wilson -- Sidney Crosby -- Patric Hornqvist

Chris Kunitz -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Carl Hagelin -- Nick Bonino -- Bryan Rust

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Matt Cullen -- Eric Fehr

Brian Dumoulin -- Trevor Daley

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Olli Maatta -- David Warsofsky

Marc-Andre Fleury

Matt Murray

Scratched: Tom Sestito, Mike Condon

Injured: Kris Letang (upper body), Conor Sheary (eye), Derrick Pouliot (undisclosed)

 

Status report

Berube backed up Greiss on Tuesday but has not played in a game this season. … Rust skated on the right side with Hagelin and Bonino. Sheary did not skate Thursday and will miss his fourth consecutive game. He is expected to be re-evaluated within the next week.

 

Who's hot

Tavares has at least one point in four of his past five games. He scored his third goal in two games on Wednesday. … Crosby scored his first goal on his third shot of the season against Florida in his season debut on Tuesday. He missed Pittsburgh's first six games with a concussion sustained during an Oct. 7 practice.

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