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Penguins put streak on the line against Islanders

by Brian Compton

ISLANDERS (11-11-3) at PENGUINS (17-8-0)


Last 10: New York 5-3-2; Pittsburgh 7-3-0.

Season series: This is the third of five meetings. They have split the first two games this season, with the visiting club winning both games.

Big story: Pittsburgh has won four straight games and sits atop the Atlantic Division with 34 points. However, Saturday’s 5-4 shootout win at Toronto was a painful one – the Pens lost star center Evgeni Malkin in the third period to an upper-body injury. Coach Dan Bylsma sounded hopeful that No. 71 won’t be out for long.

“He’ll certainly be re-evaluated,” Bylsma said. “In the game, it was more precautionary than anything at that point in time."

Team Scope:

Islanders: New York finished its seven-game homestand on a winning note, as John Tavares scored a pair of power-play goals in the third period to lead the Isles to a 5-2 victory against the Washington Capitals at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.

After a horrid start to the homestand, the Isles rallied to finish 3-2-2, earning some much-needed points to remain right in the thick of the race for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"This was a good way to finish at home, for sure," said Tavares, who now has 100 goals in his National Hockey League career. "We've got a tough one tomorrow and then a few days [off], and then two more tough ones next weekend. This was a good sendoff, and now we have to get back to the way we were playing on the road -- to get back into that mindset and how we've been successful."

Penguins: Pittsburgh certainly didn’t think a shootout would be required Saturday as it held a 4-2 lead with seven minutes to play in the second period. But Clarke MacArthur made it a one-goal game just three minutes later and Phil Kessel tied it for the pesky Maple Leafs with 4:20 remaining in regulation. Marc-Andre Fleury, however, shut the door in the shootout, while James Neal and Sidney Crosby each beat James Reimer to give the Penguins a second point in the standings and extend the winning streak to four.

"I thought we played a really good game," Crosby said. "I thought we did a lot of good things. It’s a fun building, fun atmosphere. We wouldn’t want to let them get back into it if we did it again, but they pushed hard. We probably deserved to finish that one off in regulation, but they kept coming."

Who’s hot: Tavares has three goals and an assist in the past three contests. … Crosby has three goals and seven assists in the past five games. He now has a seven-game point streak, tallying five goals and 10 assists over that span.

Injury report: New York will be without defenseman Brian Strait (ankle) and forward Jesse Joensuu (sports hernia). … Malkin is the only player likely to be missing for Pittsburgh.

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