PITTSBURGH -- The projected lines and defensemen pairings for Sunday night's game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders at Consol Energy Center:
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Brad Boyes
Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen – Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner – Marty Reasoner – David Ullstrom
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas – Colin McDonald
Travis Hamonic - Andrew MacDonald
Thomas Hickey – Lubomir Visnovsky
Mark Streit - Radek Martinek
Injured: Matt Carkner (groin), Jesse Joensuu (sports hernia), Brian Strait (ankle)
Scratched: Keith Aucoin, Eric Boulton, Joe Finley
Nabokov will make his seventh consecutive start -- his 22nd among the Islanders' first 26 games of the season. Assuming he plays the entire contest, Nabokov will at least temporarily move into third in the NHL in minutes played. This will, however, be the first time he starts on consecutive days this season. The most recent time Nabokov started both ends of a "back-to-back" was Jan. 6-7, 2012. New York lost both of those games. That marks the only time Nabokov has started games on consecutive days in almost three years -- since March 18-19, 2010, when he played for the San Jose Sharks.
The Islanders dressed seven defensemen for their morning skate, but that is not atypical. They are expected to stick with the formula that produced their fifth consecutive game with at least a point Saturday.
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis
Beau Bennett – Brandon Sutter – James Neal
Matt Cooke - Dustin Jeffrey – Tyler Kennedy
Tanner Glass – Joe Vitale – Craig Adams
Matt Niskanen – Kris Letang
Brooks Orpik – Paul Martin
Simon Despres – Mark Eaton
Injured: Evgeni Malkin (upper body)
Scratched: Mark Eaton, Robert Bortuzzo
Malkin was ruled out for Sunday after he did not play during overtime or the shootout of the Penguins' 5-4 win at the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night after absorbing a hit into the boards by James van Riemsdyk late in the third period. Playing in his third game since missing four because of a concussion, Malkin took one shift after the hit but did not play after that for what coach Dan Bylsma said were "precautionary" reasons.
In his absence, Sutter is expected to move onto the Neal-Bennett line and Jeffrey slotted up to center Kennedy and Cooke with Vitale joining the lineup on the fourth line.
Bylsma has found ways to dress Eaton, Bortuzzo and Despres, pending back-to-backs and matchups with other teams. Playing at home 24 hours after a road game would suggest he might make a switch from Despres, who was scoreless in 12:20 of ice time against Toronto. But the Islanders are a team that relies on speed, and Despres is the swiftest of the three candidates to be the No. 6 defenseman.
Fleury has not started games on consecutive days this season.