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Penguins visit Isles in last Winter Classic tuneup

by John Kreiser /

PENGUINS (25-11-2) at ISLANDERS (9-19-6)

TV -- FS-Pittsburgh (HD); MSG PLUS (HD)

Last 10 -- Pittsburgh 7-3-0; New York 4-5-1

Season series -- It's only the second meeting of the season between the Atlantic Division rivals, and the first in more than two months. Pittsburgh won 3-2 in overtime at the Consol Energy Center on Oct. 15.

Big story -- Sidney Crosby brings the longest point-scoring streak in the NHL since 1992-93 to the Nassau Coliseum, where the Penguins' biggest problem figures to be keeping their focus against the Islanders, who are 29th in the overall standings. The Pens will have to avoid looking past New York to Saturday's Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic against Washington on Saturday against Washington at Heinz Field.

Team Scope:

Penguins -- A lot of fans at Tuesday's game against Atlanta went home without their hats after tossing them onto the ice to honor what they thought was a hat trick for Crosby. But the Penguins captain had to settle for an assist, his second of the night, on a goal credited to Matt Cooke to go along with a pair of goals in Pittsburgh's 6-3 victory.

"He told me that I tipped it and I said 'yeah,' but the hats were already on the ice," Cooke told "I said, 'Do you want it; I'll give it to you?' He's like, 'No, I don't want it.' "

Islanders -- The Isles were on a 4-0-1 roll before they came crashing back to earth in a 7-2 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. It was a 2-2 game midway through the second period before the Rangers' bombardment of goalie Dwayne Roloson turned the game into a rout. The Rangers outscored the Isles 5-0 in the final 40 minutes while outshooting them 34-8 in that span.

"There are not a whole lot of positives to take out of this (loss)," interim coach Jack Capuano said. "I'm sure there are guys in the room that understand that the battle level wasn't where it needed to be tonight."

The Isles will have to shuffle their defense after trading James Wisniewski to Montreal for draft picks. Wisniewski was tied for the team lead with 21 points, but was also minus-18.

Who's hot -- Crosby has 50 points (26 goals, 24 assists) during the longest scoring streak in the NHL since Mats Sundin had a point in 30 consecutive games in 1992-93. Linemate Chris Kunitz has 5 points during a four-game streak that included a goal on Tuesday. … Isles center John Tavares has points in six consecutive games.

Injury report -- Pittsburgh goalie Brent Johnson (groin), defenseman Ben Lovejoy (face) and forward Arron Asham (lower body) are day-to-day. Forwards Mike Comrie (hip) and Jordan Staal (hand) are on injured reserve, though Staal may be able to play by Saturday. … In addition to their long-term absentees -- Mark Streit, Kyle Okposo, Doug Weight and Trent Hunter -- New York is missing defenseman Radek Martinek, who's missed the last three games with an arm injury.

Stat pack -- The Penguins have won the last five meetings between the teams, though four of them have been in Pittsburgh.

Puck drop -- As superb as Crosby has been during his streak, he's nowhere near making history. He's still three games away from tying Mario Lemieux for the Penguins' second-longest point-scoring streak, but he's still 21 off Lemieux's franchise-record 46 game streak -- and 26 games removed from Wayne Gretzky's NHL-record 51-game scoring streak in 1983-84.

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