In less than two seasons, Sidney Crosby appears to have discovered his favorite place to play when the Pittsburgh Penguins are on the road.
The superstar center looks to continue his strong play at Nassau Coliseum when the Penguins and New York Islanders conclude their season series Thursday night.
The 19-year-old Crosby has played in only six games on Long Island, has three goals and 11 assists there during his brief career. He's racked up seven assists in two games at the Coliseum this season but did not play in a 3-1 loss on Nov. 24 due to a groin strain.
Overall, Crosby has nine goals and 31 points in just 14 games versus the Islanders and has recorded multipoint games in all six matchups this season, totaling three goals and 14 assists.
Crosby is second this season with 76 assists - trailing only the 79 by San Jose's Joe Thornton - but has a league-leading 108 points.
Pittsburgh (41-22-10) has been idle since a 2-1 loss Monday to the New York Rangers that concluded a stretch of five games in seven days. Crosby was held without a point as the Penguins had their five-game winning streak snapped and an eight-game run with at least one point also was halted.
"If you look at the big picture, you have to be satisfied," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "What makes it tough is that we were about 30 seconds from picking up at least another point."
Pittsburgh surrendered the lead with 33.8 seconds to play when backup goaltender Jocelyn Thibault gave up a goal to Jaromir Jagr that deflected off Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi and was reviewed by officials.
"We got a bad bounce, no doubt," Crosby said. "We've had our breaks against them throughout the year. This one went against us."
The Penguins are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference but only two points behind the New Jersey for the Atlantic Division lead with nine games to play.
While the Penguins are poised for their first playoff appearance since 2001, the Islanders (34-27-11) are trying to reach the postseason for the first time since 2004. New York enters this game in 11th place in the East with 79 points, but only is one point behind Carolina, Toronto and Montreal for the eighth and final berth. The Isles also have games in hand on all three teams.
Goaltender Rick DiPietro, making his first start since March 13 after being injured in a collision with Montreal's Steve Begin, turned aside 36 shots to help the Islanders salvage a point in their 4-3 overtime loss at Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
"I felt a little on the fatigued side," DiPietro said after the Isles fell to 0-3-1 in their last four games overall. "I'm just a little disappointed. I would have liked to close that out in the third period with that one-goal lead, but they're a tough team to play against."
DiPietro has gone 3-2-0 with a 3.66 goals-against average against the Penguins this season but stopped 67 of 73 shots in New York's two home victories. He is 4-1-0 with a 3.35 GAA in five career home starts versus Pittsburgh.
The Penguins have won four of the seven games between the Atlantic Division rivals but are 1-2-0 at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders rallied for a 6-5 victory in the last meeting on Feb. 19, spoiling a four-assist game by Crosby.