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Penguins' Zatkoff to start vs. red-hot Islanders

by Staff

The New York Islanders are on a tear and the Pittsburgh Penguins will turn to rookie goaltender Jeff Zatkoff in an attempt to stop them Thursday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

Though the Penguins and Islanders reside at opposite ends of the Metropolitan Division standings -- 23 points separates first-place Pittsburgh from eighth-place New York -- a run of 10 wins in 13 games has pulled the Islanders to within five points of the Columbus Blue Jackets for a Stanley Cup Playoff berth.

These teams met in the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, with the Islanders taking the Penguins to overtime of Game 6 before they were eliminated on a Brooks Orpik goal. New York won the opener of the 2013-14 season series before Pittsburgh came back to take the next two, including the previous game at the Coliseum on Dec. 3, 3-2 on an overtime goal by Sidney Crosby.

Zatkoff has started just once since Dec. 29, a 4-3 overtime loss at the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 10. That snapped his seven-game winning streak. He's 7-2-1 with a 2.67 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in 10 games.

The Penguins are coming off a 5-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday in which Jussi Jokinen scored twice and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 23 shots. They activated forward Andrew Ebbett off injured reserve Thursday and sent forward Zach Sill back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.

The Islanders will use the same lineup that led them to a 5-3 win Tuesday at the New York Rangers. Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, out since Oct. 19 with a concussion, practiced with a no-contact jersey and could return as early as next week. Injured goaltender Evgeni Nabokov also skated Thursday but isn't ready to return.

Here's how the lineups could look when the Penguins face the Islanders:


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Chuck Kobasew

Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal

Tanner Glass - Brandon Sutter - Taylor Pyatt

Craig Adams - Andrew Ebbett - Jayson Megna

Paul Martin - Brooks Orpik

Rob Scuderi - Kris Letang

Olli Maatta - Matt Niskanen

Jeff Zatkoff

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo, Deryk Engelland

Injured: Beau Bennett (wrist/hand), Chris Conner (hand), Pascal Dupuis (ACL), Joe Vitale (upper body), Brian Gibbons (lower body), Tomas Vokoun (pelvis)


Thomas Vanek - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Peter Regin - Frans Nielsen - Josh Bailey

Michael Grabner - Brock Nelson - Cal Clutterbuck

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Colin McDonald

Brian Strait - Andrew MacDonald

Matt Donovan - Calvin de Haan

Thomas Hickey - Radek Martinek

Kevin Poulin

Anders Nilsson

Scratched: Eric Boulton, Matt Carkner

Injured: Evgeni Nabokov (lower body), Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion), Travis Hamonic (upper body)

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