Sidney Crosby has had his way with the New York Islanders since entering the NHL last season.
The Pittsburgh Penguins young star, though, may not be able to continue that dominance Friday afternoon when his team visits the Islanders.
Crosby missed a game to injury for only the second time in his two-season career Wednesday, sitting out with a sore groin as Pittsburgh (10-7-3) lost 4-3 in a shootout to Boston. The 19-year-old center is tied for the team lead with 10 goals and tops the club with 30 points, which is tied for fourth-best in the league.
"He's always been a big part of the team," Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said.
Especially when the Penguins play the Islanders.
Crosby has six goals and 11 assists while contributing at least one point in eight of nine meetings against New York (10-7-3). He had three assists for the second straight time versus the Islanders in Pittsburgh's 4-3 win on Oct. 19.
In that contest, Islanders coach Ted Nolan had a problem with the way Crosby played.
"I think for a world-class player, for a guy his caliber, he's diving every time someone touches him," Nolan said. "The refs said they're going to call it on people who dive. I guess they missed his diving."
Crosby brushed off Nolan's comments as gamesmanship.
"I don't need to defend myself," he said. "I think my play more than shows the type of player I am. I'd be worried if I went out there and did that, but I don't."
The Islanders continued their recent stretch of good play with a dominating 4-2 victory over defending champion Carolina on Wednesday. New York opened a three-game homestand by outshooting the Hurricanes 48-15 and improving to 4-1-1 in its last six contests.
"We want to maintain our style of play, regardless of the score or the shots," Nolan said. "We don't want to get too high or too low during the game. We just want to continue to play our game."
Jason Blake and Alexei Yashin each had a goal and an assist for the Islanders.
"The biggest thing is that we came out hard," Blake said after New York outshot Carolina 20-1 in the first period. "We got sustained pressure right from the start, and kept it up the whole night."
Blake has scored in three straight games to give him a team-high 12 goals this season, while Yashin has four goals and four assists in his last six contests. Yashin leads the Islanders with 16 assists and 25 points.
Pittsburgh hasn't lost in regulation to New York with Crosby on the team, posting a 5-0-4 mark. The Penguins are 3-0-2 over that span at Nassau Coliseum.
This is the first of four matchups between these Atlantic Division rivals in the next three weeks. They meet again on Nov. 28, Dec. 2 and Dec. 15 - all in Pittsburgh.