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Penguins vs. Islanders Game Preview

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Home: 13-6-1-27
Road: 12-5-1-25

WHEN: Dec. 29, 2010 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: Nassau Coliseum
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
New York Islanders
Home: 6-7-3-15

  Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders 
Matt Moulson
C  -  #26
  11 Goals
  7 Assists
  18 Points
• Last season, Moulson established career highs in goals (30), assists (18), points (48) and games played (82) in his first campaign with the Islanders.

• Played four seasons for Cornell University from 2002-06, leading the team in scoring his sophomore, junior and senior seasons as he finished his career with 138 points in 135 games played.

• Originally selected by the Penguins in the ninth round (263rd overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
Frans Nielsen
F  -  #10
  5 Goals
  13 Assists
  18 Points
• The Islanders alternate captain notched four points (1G-3A) in five games against the Penguins last season.

• Last season, Nielsen posted personal bests in games played (76), goals (12), assists (26), points (38) and average time on ice (17:12) in his second full NHL season.

• The Herning, Denmark native became the first Danish-born/raised citizen to appear in an NHL game when he made his Islanders debut on Jan. 6 against Carolina.
Mark Eaton
D  -  #4
  0 goals
  2 assists
  2 points
• Signed a free agent contract with the Islanders on July 2, 2010, after spending four seasons with Pittsburgh.

• The veteran blueliner, now in his 12th professional season, tallied career highs in games played (79), assists (13) and points (16) last season with the Penguins.

• Paces the Islanders with 68 blocked shots – is no stranger to throwing himself in front of opposing players’ blasts, as he ranked third in blocked shots with 148 when he won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009 and second with 135 blocked shots last season.
The New York Islanders will be looking to bounce back from a 7-2 loss at the hands of the New York Rangers when they host Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Prior to Monday’s loss, the Islanders had been flying high – they had posted a 4-0-1 record from Dec. 16 to Dec. 26 following a dismal 1-17-3 stretch which has them ranked 14th in the Eastern Conference with a 9-19-6 record. They got off to a good start against the Rangers, ending the first period tied 2-2. But the Rangers stormed back, outshooting the Islanders 34-8 over the final 40 minutes and 52-20 overall.

Veteran goalie Dwayne Roloson has played his best hockey of the season over this last week for the Islanders, backstopping his team to three straight wins after going 0-11-1 in his previous 12 starts. Roloson, 41, allowed just one goal in each of those games, stopping 106-of-109 shots. And despite allowing seven goals on Monday, he still made a season-high 45 saves in the loss.

While Roloson is playing well, the Penguins may see the oft-injured Rick DiPietro in net Wednesday. The Islanders activated DiPietro off the injured list Sunday after he had missed three games with swelling in his surgically repaired right knee. The 29-year-old is 4-6-4 in his 14 starts this season.

The injury bug has bitten the Islanders’ skaters hard this season. Their defense is hurting with long-term injuries to Mark Streit (torn shoulder labrum and rotator cuff) and Mike Mottau (torn hip labrum). James Wisniewski had been carrying the burden with their absences, but the feisty defenseman, who was traded to the Islanders from Anahem in July, got traded to Montreal as of Tuesday afternoon in exchange for two picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Up top, the Islanders are missing the veteran leadership of captain Doug Weight, who’s been out since Nov. 17 with back spasms. But they’re set to get Kyle Okposo (torn shoulder labrum) back in early January, and the Islanders’ top line of Matt Moulson, John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau has been anchoring the offense in his stead. The trio has combined for 29 goals and 60 points, with Tavares enjoying a seven-game point streak and Parenteau riding a four-game point streak.
  • The Penguins have dominated the Islanders in the post-lockout era, posting an overall record of 23-8-5 against the Islanders, including a 14-2-2 mark in Pittsburgh.
  • The Penguins have won five straight games over the Islanders, earning a 5-1 record against their Atlantic Division rival last season.
  • Sidney Crosby exploded for a four-point effort (2G-2A) in the Penguins' 6-3 win over Atlanta on Tuesday. He extended his point streak to 25 games, scoring 26 times for a total of 50 points over that stretch. He leads the NHL with 32 goals and 65 points.
  • Crosby is now within four games of tying Mario Lemieux for the second-longest point streak in franchise history, after No. 66 reeled off a 28-game stretch from Jan. 1, 1986 to March 15, 1986, scoring 59 points (21G-38A).
  • This marks the seventh set of back-to-back games for the Penguins. Pittsburgh is 9-4 overall in back-to-back situations so far this season, with a 5-1 record in the second game.
  • If the Penguins earn a victory Wednesday, they’ll post back-to-back 10-win months for just the second time in franchise history. The last time the Penguins accomplished that feat was in 1995, when they went 10-3-1 in November and 10-4 in December that year en route to a 49-29-4 record and a Northeast Division title. They currently have an 9-3 record for the month of December after posting a 10-3-1 mark in November.
  • Jordan Staal has been skating with the team since Sunday, when he traveled with the team to Ottawa. He was on the ice for the Penguins’ practice on Monday and skated with the team for about an hour on Tuesday. Staal has yet to see game action this season, with a broken foot sidelining him for the first 12 games before suffering a broken hand that has kept him out of commission since.



Play Keepaway: Roloson and the Islanders had no answer for the complete team effort from the Rangers on Monday, as every single Blueshirt registered a shot on goal in their 7-2 victory. The Penguins do a great job of passing the puck, especially to defensemen like Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski, who can shoot cannons from the point, and forwards like Evgeni Malkin, who has a patented one-timer. The Penguins will need to keep barraging whoever’s in net for the Islanders with shots from all angles.

Come Out Flying: The Islanders will be looking to redeem themselves after allowing the Rangers to score seven goals on Monday en route to ending their three-game winning streak. They’ll be hungry to get that winning feeling back against the Penguins. The Rangers set the tone on Monday when they scored 44 seconds into the game, and the Penguins can do the same with a fast start on Wednesday.
C Jordan Staal, broken right hand (up to 2 weeks)
F Mike Comrie, hip (15)
G Brent Johnson, illness (3)
RW Trent Hunter, torn left MCL (indefinitely)
D Radek Martinek, sprained wrist (day-to-day)
D Mike Mottau, hip surgery (will miss remainder of the season)
RW Kyle Okposo, torn right shoulder labrum (early January)
D Mark Streit, torn left labrum and rotator cuff (up to six months)
C Doug Weight, back spasms (indefinitely)
Crosby (32) Moulson (11)
Crosby (33) Wisniewski (18)
Crosby (65) Four tied with (21)
Engelland (76) Konopka (123)
Crosby (+21) Four tied with (0)
Crosby (9) Parenteau (5)
Cooke (2)
Jurcina (1)
Fleury (16-8-1)
DiPietro (4-6-4)
Johnson (2.14) Roloson (.915)
Johnson (.925) Roloson (2.63)

Craig Adams - Adams' shorthanded goal in the second period of Tuesday's game against the Thrashers turned the momentum in the Penguins' favor in their eventual 6-3 victory. The goal was his second of the season, with his other tally also coming while shorthanded on Oct. 27 against Tampa Bay. The forward, who's a crucial part of the Penguins' No.2-ranked PK, finished the night with a team-leading 8:09 of shorthanded ice time, helping his team kill off 7-of-8 Thrashers power plays.
John Tavares - Tavares extended his point streak to seven games with an assist on P.A. Parenteau’s first-period tally in Monday’s 7-2 loss to the Rangers. The first-overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft now has two goals and five assists over his seven-game point streak, including a two-point effort (1G-1A) in the Rangers’ 2-1 overtime win on Dec. 22 against Tampa Bay. The 20-year-old center is tied for the team lead in scoring with 10 goals and 21 points over 31 games played.

Adams' Shorthanded Tally Turns Tide for Pens 
Aftermath: Penguins 6, Thrashers 3 
Pens Alumni Scrimmaged Tuesday
Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Atlanta
Mario Lemieux's Comeback: A Retrospective  
Four Penguins Rank Among Potential All-Star Starters Entering the Final Week of Voting
  24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic - Dec. 29 Episode
Penguins Elite International Youth Tournament Begins Wednesday at CONSOL Energy Center
Crosby Named "Third Star" of the Week 

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Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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