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Penguins still looking for first home win

by John Kreiser

ISLANDERS (1-1-1) at PENGUINS (1-3-0)

TV -- MSG PLUS (HD), FSN-Pittsburgh (HD)

Season series -- The Islanders pay their first visit to the new Consol Energy Center as they meet their Atlantic Division rivals for the first time this season. Don't expect the Islanders to miss Mellon Arena -- they lost their last eight visits to the Igloo and won just twice in their last 16 trips.

Big story -- The Penguins have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury and the newest building in the NHL. What they don't have is a victory in their new building as yet. While the Islanders were beginning a stretch of 12-in-15 on the road with a 2-1 loss at Washington on Wednesday, the Penguins fell to 0-3-0 in their new home with a 4-3 loss to Toronto. Their lone victory this season was a 3-1 win at New Jersey on Monday.

Team Scope:

-- The Isles gave the Caps everything they could handle on Wednesday, but the inability to cash in on some third-period chances and an unnecessary roughing penalty by Blake Comeau that led to the winning goal spoiled the night in the 2-1 loss.

"The end result wasn't too good, but I think as a team we did a great job," rookie Nino Niederreiter, who scored his first NHL goal, told the Islanders' website. "We had a good effort."

Penguins -- Three games and three one-goal losses -- not the ideal way to christen your new home. But that's what's happened to the Penguins, who have struggled to score and haven't gotten the kind of goaltending they need from Fleury, who stopped just 10 of 14 shots against Toronto. Brent Johnson, who got the win in New Jersey, will start against the Islanders even though Fleury is 6-0-1 in his last seven starts against New York with a 1.68 goals-against average.

The losses are beginning to become a matter of concern.

"Each game that goes by, especially when you expect to win each one, it starts to get discouraging," defenseman Paul Martin said. "That's something we can't concentrate on."

Who's hot -- Isles forward Blake Comeau has 3 goals in New York's first three games. … A chance to play the Islanders at home might be just what Sidney Crosby needs to shake an early-season slump (2 points in four games): He had 4 goals and 15 points in the Isles' last five visits to Pittsburgh.

Injury report -- The Islanders are without top defenseman Mark Streit and first-line winger Kyle Okposo for the foreseeable future after both had preseason shoulder surgery. Center Rob Schremp (back) might be back by the end of the month. The Islanders do hope to get second-year center John Tavares back for this game or Saturday night's home meeting with Colorado; he's been out after sustaining a concussion on Oct. 9. Defenseman James Wisniewski is sitting out the second of a two-game suspension. … Pittsburgh is still without center Jordan Staal (foot) and forward Arron Asham (upper body), both of whom resumed skating Thursday. Defenseman Zybnek Michalek will miss at least two weeks with a shoulder injury sustained on Monday, and fellow blueliner Brooks Orpik has missed two games with a groin problem.

Stat pack -- Pittsburgh has outscored the Islanders 39-15 in New York's last eight visits to the Steel City. Overall, the Pens are 15-3-1 in their last 19 meetings. … Fleury has a save percentage of .853, the lowest in the League through the first week of the season.

Puck drop --"Nobody likes to lose, but I think through the first four games, we've done some pretty good things and had some pretty good chances to score. We still have things to improve on, but there have been a lot of good things, too. We can always look at other situations and scenarios. I look back to last year, we were 9-1, but we didn't really play that well. You still want to win obviously, but that's hockey sometimes. It doesn't always seem fair, but that's the way it works." -- Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, who took off from practice Thursday in what was termed a "maintenance day."

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