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Preview: Islanders at Penguins

New York needs win to take second wild card in East; Pittsburgh can catch Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals in points

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

ISLANDERS (34-26-12) at PENGUINS (46-17-10)

7 p.m. ET; NHLN, TVA Sports, SN, ROOT, MSG+, NHL.TV


Islanders team scope

The New York Islanders can move into the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with a victory. They are two points behind the Boston Bruins, but have two games in hand. The Islanders host the Bruins on Saturday. Goalie Jaroslav Halak will start one day after being recalled from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League. It will be Halak's first NHL start since Dec. 29, when he allowed four goals on 24 shots in a 6-4 loss at the Minnesota Wild. Halak is 6-8-5 with a 3.23 goals-against average and .904 save percentage in the NHL this season. "We still covet him. We still need him," coach Doug Weight said. "He's got his game back. He's played really, really well [in the AHL]." The Islanders will be without forward Ryan Strome for 3-6 weeks. Strome, who has 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 69 games this season, left a 3-2 win at the New York Rangers on Wednesday with an upper-body injury, which Newsday reported is a broken right wrist. "It's a little better than it looked at first, but it'll be an extended time, whether that's three weeks or six weeks, we'll have to wait and see," Weight said. "It looks as though he'll avoid surgery which is nice, so just hit the wrong way and it's a tough time." Forward Alan Quine will play in Strome's place. The Islanders are 17-9-4 since Weight replaced Jack Capuano as coach Jan. 17. "It's probably a simple answer, but you have to win," Weight said. "You have to win big games."

Penguins team scope

The Pittsburgh Penguins would pull even in points with the Washington Capitals atop the Metropolitan Division with a win but would remain in second place based on having played one more game than the Capitals. The Penguins also are one point ahead of the third-place Columbus Blue Jackets. The status of Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin is uncertain after he didn't play in 2-1 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, the fourth consecutive game he has missed because of an upper-body injury. "He's an elite player. He's a hard guy to replace," coach Mike Sullivan said Thursday. "We have capable people." Center Sidney Crosby has performed well in Malkin's absence with seven points (six goals, one assist) in his past four games. He leads the NHL with 41 goals, and his 81 points are six behind Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid for the League lead. The Penguins likely will start goalie Marc-Andre Fleury after Matt Murray made 29 saves Thursday. Fleury is 12-3-3 in his past 20 games. He made 21 saves in his first shutout of the season in his last start, a 4-0 win against the Florida Panthers on Sunday. 

Islanders projected lineup

Anders Lee -- John Tavares -- Josh Bailey

Andrew Ladd -- Anthony Beauvillier -- Joshua Ho-Sang

Brock Nelson -- Alan Quine -- Jason Chimera

Nikolay Kulemin -- Casey Cizikas -- Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy -- Adam Pelech

Calvin de Haan -- Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey -- Scott Mayfield

Jaroslav Halak

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Jean-Francois Berube, Dennis Seidenberg, Stephen Gionta

Injured: Johnny Boychuk (lower body), Shane Prince (lower body), Ryan Strome (upper body)


Penguins projected lineup

Scott Wilson -- Sidney Crosby -- Conor Sheary

Phil Kessel -- Matt Cullen -- Patric Hornqvist

Chris Kunitz -- Nick Bonino -- Carter Rowney

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Oskar Sundqvist -- Josh Archibald 

Brian Dumoulin -- Justin Schultz

Ian Cole -- Chad Ruhwedel

Mark Streit -- Frank Corrado

Marc-Andre Fleury

Matt Murray

Scratched: Cameron Gaunce

Injured : Evgeni Malkin (upper body), Bryan Rust (upper body), Olli Maatta (hand), Trevor Daley (knee), Kris Letang (upper body), Carl Hagelin (lower body), Ron Hainsey (upper body), Tom Sestito (upper body), Jake Guentzel (concussion)


Status report

Boychuk will miss his 10th consecutive game. Weight did not update his status.


Who's hot

Tavares has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his past nine games. … Bonino scored for the Penguins on Thursday. He has seven goals in his past nine games. Sheary has 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in his past 10 games.

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