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Pens, Isles set to renew rivalry

by Brian Compton
PENGUINS (6-2-2) at ISLANDERS (3-3-0)


Season Series: This is the first of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals. Pittsburgh went 4-1-1 against the Isles last season, including the most recent meeting, a 4-3 shootout decision at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 8.

Big Story: It appears as though the injury bug won't be leaving the Steel City any time soon. The Penguins suffered another huge blow Monday, when coach Dan Bylsma announced defenseman Zbynek Michalek broke his finger during Saturday's 4-1 win against New Jersey and will miss 4-6 weeks.

Pittsburgh has already played segments of this season without superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, as well as Dustin Jeffrey, Tyler Kennedy and Brooks Orpik.

"(Michalek) plays a lot of minutes, so obviously everyone is going to have absorb a few more," Pens defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. "He's been an important part of our blue line on our team for a while. We will certainly miss him."

Team Scope:

Penguins: Despite all the injuries, Pittsburgh enters Tuesday's action atop the Atlantic Division with 6 victories and points in 8 of its first 10 games. The Penguins extended their win streak to three with Saturday's victory against the Devils, which was sparked by Jordan Staal's pair of goals.

"Staalsy's a guy who flies under the radar with the superstars on this team," Pens forward Chris Kunitz said. "We know how good he is. He's proven it year after year. Right now, we're missing some guys, and he's going out and proving he can produce the numbers we believe he can always do."

Islanders: After reeling off three straight wins to finish their season-opening four-game homestand, the Islanders went down to Florida and suffered a pair of lackluster losses. New York dropped a 4-1 decision at Tampa Bay on Thursday night before the Panthers handed them a 4-2 loss on Saturday at the BankAtlantic Center.

"We had a bad first road trip," Isles captain Mark Streit said. "Nobody's happy, but we had a good practice. Now we just have to turn the page and learn from our mistakes."

Who's Hot: Pens forward James Neal is off to a roaring start with 8 goals in 10 games. Kris Letang, the club's top defenseman, has a goal and 7 assists in 8 contests. … Isles center John Tavares leads the club with 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists) in 6 games.

Injury Report: Malkin (knee) is expected to participate in Tuesday's morning skate. His status for the game will be updated afterwards. Crosby (concussion) is practicing with the team, although no return date has been set just yet. Kennedy is also out with a concussion, joining Michalek and Brian Stait (elbow). … The Islanders will be without Nino Niederreiter, who is day-to-day with a groin injury. Milan Jurcina (groin) practiced with the team Monday and is close to returning.

Stat Pack: Pittsburgh has not allowed a power-play goal on the road. … Isles forwards Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, Brian Rolston and Blake Comeau have combined for 1 goal and 3 assists this season.

Puck Drop: "It's tough when you don't have some of your key guys. Last year, we were missing a couple of guys and we still found a way to win some games down the stretch. It's tough, but you've got to move on and try to find a way to win." -- Penguins defenseman Paul Martin
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