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5 Keys: Islanders at Penguins, Game 4

New York eyes fast start to finish sweep; Pittsburgh needs spark from top scorers

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor



New York leads best-of-7 series 3-0


[RELATED: Complete Islanders vs. Penguins series coverage]


The New York Islanders will try to sweep the Pittsburgh Penguins when they play Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday.

The Islanders have not swept a playoff series since winning four straight against the Edmonton Oilers in the 1983 Stanley Cup Final. Teams that lead 3-0 in a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series are 186-4 all-time.

The Penguins, who have been outscored 11-5 in the series and have led for 3:17, have not been swept since the 2013 Eastern Conference Final against the Boston Bruins.

Here are 5 keys to Game 4:


1. Paging Penguins top players

Pittsburgh centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, forwards Jake Guentzel, Patric Hornqvist and Phil Kessel and defenseman Kris Letang have combined for six points (two goals, four assists) in the series. Crosby, Guentzel and Hornqvist each have been held without a point.

"I think we've talked the last couple days," Crosby said. "We know the position we're in and understand that our focus and mindset has to be to come out here and win a hockey game. We can't get it all back at once, so the margin for error is small. But we've got to go out here and win a game at home."

Video: Breaking down the Islanders Game 3 win over Penguins


2. Expect their best

With their season on the line, the Penguins are expected to play with desperation and an intensity the Islanders know they must match if they want to close out the series Tuesday.

"We're trying to end a season on the other side," Islanders center Brock Nelson said. "We've got to expect the best. They have a lot of skill and talent over there and pride, so we've to come ready. But we go in with the same mindset, stick to the process."


3. Penguins must power up

Despite all the firepower Pittsburgh has, particularly up front, it is 1-for-8 on the power play. The Penguins were pleased with what they generated during their three opportunities in Game 3, even though they failed to score. 

"I think we've had some chances around the net, whether it's power play or even strength," Crosby said. "They haven't gone in, so I think we're comfortable and confident with the combination of guys. At this point, we've all played together, so I just think making sure that everyone plays their game and we help each other and support each other."


4. Buzz kill crucial

Pittsburgh fans likely will bring the noise at the start with hopes of extending this series, but the Islanders can silence them early by scoring the opening goal. 

"I think any playoff game, it's always nice to get the first one with the momentum and all of that," New York forward Anders Lee said. "Especially on the road, I think that will be a focal point tonight to maybe get the first one. But the important thing is regardless of what happens there, it's just sticking with it, maintaining what we've done and just trying to move forward with our game." 


5. Create havoc in front of Lehner

The Penguins must get to the net when they do get shots on Islanders goalie Robin Lehner and pounce on any potential rebounds, something they didn't do enough of in Game 3 when they were held to 26 shots on goal.

"He's a big body," Crosby said. "He takes up a lot of net. I just think finding those second or third opportunities, if he sees it, he's most likely going to save it, so just finding a way to get to rebounds and fighting through that top area of the net to generate those second and third opportunities."


Islanders projected lineup

Anders Lee -- Mathew Barzal -- Jordan Eberle

Josh Bailey -- Brock Nelson -- Tom Kuhnhackl

Anthony Beauvillier -- Valtteri Filppula -- Leo Komarov

Matt Martin -- Casey Cizikas -- Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy -- Johnny Boychuk

Adam Pelech -- Ryan Pulock

Devon Toews -- Scott Mayfield

Robin Lehner

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Thomas Hickey, Luca Sbisa, Dennis Seidenberg, Michael Dal Colle, Ross Johnston

Injured: None


Penguins projected lineup

Jared McCann -- Sidney Crosby -- Jake Guentzel

Bryan Rust -- Evgeni Malkin -- Phil Kessel

Dominik Simon -- Nick Bjugstad -- Patric Hornqvist

Zach Aston-Reese -- Matt Cullen -- Garrett Wilson

Brian Dumoulin -- Kris Letang

Jack Johnson -- Justin Schultz

Marcus Pettersson -- Erik Gudbranson

Matt Murray

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Zach Trotman, Olli Maatta, Teddy Blueger, Tristan Jarry

Injured: Chad Ruhwedel (upper body)


Status report

Mayfield is expected to play after missing practice because of a maintenance day Monday. ... The Penguins will tweak their lines from Game 3, replacing Simon with McCann on the first line. McCann will play left wing, bumping Guentzel from left wing to right wing. Simon will be third-line left wing, where he finished the regular season.

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