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Berube in net for Islanders vs. Penguins

Goalie to make third NHL start of career in key Metropolitan Division game

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

ISLANDERS (38-21-8) at PENGUINS (36-24-8)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SNO, SNW, SNP, MSG+, ROOT, NHL.TV

PITTSBURGH -- New York Islanders goalie Jean-Francois Berube will make his third NHL start against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday.

After defeating the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Monday, only a few Islanders took the ice in an informal skate Tuesday morning in Pittsburgh. Goalies Thomas Greiss and Berube were included in those attending the session, with Berube leaving the ice first.

Berube stopped six of seven shots in his last appearance Feb. 6 against the Detroit Red Wings, and made 40 saves in a 5-3 win against the Minnesota Wild four days prior. Greiss, who served as Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's backup last season, made 23 saves in his 19th win of the season Monday.

Greiss made three saves in relief of goalie Jaroslav Halak, who sustained a lower-body injury, in New York's 2-1 win against Pittsburgh on March 8. 

New York is third in the Metropolitan Division with 84 points, trailing the New York Rangers by one point. Pittsburgh is the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with 80 points.

"Last week, we could've maybe been in front of them until they won [Monday] if we got those two points," Penguins forward Chris Kunitz said. "We have to be able to stay with them now."

No substantial changes to Pittsburgh's lineup are expected in the second game without center Evgeni Malkin, who is projected to miss 6-8 weeks with an upper-body injury. Because of several injuries to key players throughout the season, eight Penguins have made their NHL debuts.

Forward Dominik Simon, who played fourth-line left wing but moved to the third line during the Tuesday morning skate, earned his first NHL point in his debut against the Rangers on Sunday. Four call-ups from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League factored into the 5-3 win, with forwards Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Bryan Rust and Simon each having at least one point.

Kuhnhackl and Rust have regularly been paired as wings on the third line, but Kuhnhackl was shifted to fourth-line left wing Tuesday morning.

"We did it in the middle of the game against the Rangers. It gives us a little bit more balance," coach Mike Sullivan said. "When we did it in the Rangers game, we liked what we saw, so we thought we'd stay with it."

The young forwards make up a substantial part of the Penguins' bottom-six, which will most likely not change Tuesday despite forward Beau Bennett (upper body) participating in the morning skate. Bennett has missed 43 games with various injuries in his fourth NHL season.

Defenseman Ben Lovejoy (upper body) also took part in the skate, but will not play. He skated on a fourth defensive pairing alongside Derrick Pouliot.

Lovejoy said he feels like he is close to returning, which Sullivan confirmed.

"Ben Lovejoy is, for all intents and purposes, ready to play," Sullivan said. "We'd like to get him a practice or two so that he gets more contact, more intensity, to his practice before we make a decision on if we put him in the lineup."

Here are the projected lineups:

ISLANDERS

Josh Bailey - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Nikolay Kulemin - Frans Nielsen - Ryan Strome

Shane Prince - Brock Nelson - Anders Lee

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk

Calvin de Haan - Travis Hamonic

Ryan Pulock - Thomas Hickey

Jean-Francois Berube

Thomas Greiss

Injured: Mikhail Grabovski (upper body), Jaroslav Halak (lower body), Adam Pelech (upper body), Marek Zidlicky (upper body)

Scratched: Steve Bernier, Eric Boulton, Brian Strait

PENGUINS

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist

Carl Hagelin - Nick Bonino - Phil Kessel

Dominik Simon - Matt Cullen - Bryan Rust

Tom Kuhnhackl - Eric Fehr - Conor Sheary

Olli Maatta - Kris Letang

Brian Dumoulin - Trevor Daley

Ian Cole - Justin Schultz

Marc-Andre Fleury

Matthew Murray

Jeff Zatkoff

Injured: Evgeni Malkin (upper body), Beau Bennett (upper body), Ben Lovejoy (upper body), Kevin Porter (ankle surgery), Scott Wilson (lower body)

Scratched: Derrick Pouliot

Status report: Pittsburgh signed Rust, Wilson and Kuhnhackl to two-year contract extensions Monday that begin with the 2016-17 season … Grabovski was activated off injured reserve Monday, but missed a ninth game. Islanders coach Jack Capuano said Grabovski is progressing but they want to "get him a few more days."

Who's hot: Crosby extended his scoring streak to eight games (four goals, 13 points) with a goal and an assist against the Rangers on Sunday. … Tavares is on a five-game scoring streak after recording an assist against the Panthers on Monday. He leads the Islanders with 55 points, one more than Okposo.

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