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Penguins aim for home-and-home sweep of Islanders

by Mike G. Morreale /
ISLANDERS (3-4-0) at PENGUINS (7-2-2)

Last 10:
Pittsburgh 6-2-2
Season series: This is the second matchup between the Atlantic Division rivals in three days. Pittsburgh scored a 3-0 victory on Tuesday in Uniondale, N.Y., in the first of six meetings between the teams this season. The game was Dan Bylsma's 200th behind the bench since taking over in Pittsburgh on Feb. 16, 2009. Ironically, Bylsma's first game was also at Nassau Coliseum against the Islanders and he lost in a shootout. Bylsma is 121-58-21, a .658 winning percentage. Pittsburgh went 4-1-1 against the Isles last season.
Big story: The Penguins received good news on Tuesday with the return of center Evgeni Malkin to the lineup. Malkin had been sidelined since Oct. 13 with a knee injury but appeared to be in mid-season form in the team's triumph over the Islanders. The playmaking Malkin, who earned 19:19 of ice time, had three takeaways and three shots on goal, worked the top line with wings James Neal and Steve Sullivan.
Team Scope:
Center John Tavares netted his sixth goal in as many games this season in the Isles' 4-2 loss Saturday in Florida. Tavares, who has been operating on a line with wings Matt Moulson and PA Parenteau much of the season, has had a hand in 10 of the Islanders' 14 goals in 2011-12, connecting for 6 goals and 10 points. Tavares finished with a minus-1 rating in the shutout loss to the Penguins on Tuesday but did win 50 percent of his faceoffs and generated four shots.
Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury made 33 saves and Pascal Dupuis, ex-Islander Richard Park and Jordan Staal scored goals as the Penguins recorded a 3-0 victory over the Islanders on Tuesday. The triumph moved the Penguins, winners of four straight, two points ahead of the Washington Capitals for top honors in the Eastern Conference with 16 points.
Who's hot: Entering his first full season with the Penguins, and fourth in the NHL, Neal has been white hot, with 8 goals and 9 points in Pittsburgh's first 11 games. … Islanders defenseman Mark Streit has connected for a goal and 6 points in his first seven games.
Injury report: Pittsburgh is without forwards Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Tyler Kennedy (concussion) and defensemen Zbynek Michalek (broken finger) and Brian Strait (hyperextended elbow). … The Islanders will be without forward Nino Niederreiter (groin). Defenseman Milan Jurcina (groin) is questionable.
Stat pack: Fleury's 33-save shutout over the Islanders on Tuesday was his third straight win. The shutout was his first of the season and the 20th of his career. "Flower" has been red hot of late, stopping 97 of the last 99 shots (.980 save percentage), dating back to the second period of an eventual 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 17.
Puck drop: "We don't come here to lose, and obviously we're sick of it already," Tavares told the New York Daily News following his team's third straight loss on Tuesday. "It's no time to panic, but we know we have to be better than this."

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