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Penguins vs. Islanders Game Preview

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Home: 16-9-1-33
Road: 14-6-3-31

WHEN: Jan. 25, 2011 - 7:00 pm   |   WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
New York Islanders
Home: 8-11-4-20

  Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Islanders 
John Tavares
C  -  #91
  18 Goals
  18 Assists
  36 Points
• The sophomore NHLer has performed well against Atlantic Division foe Pittsburgh thus far, scoring seven points (4G-3A) in seven games played against the Penguins.

• The 6-foot, 195-pound center has proven to be dynamite on the power play, scoring eight of his 18 goals so far with the man-advantage while averaging 3:40 of PP ice time.

• The 20-year-old was drafted in the first round (first overall) by the Islanders in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Kyle Okposo
RW  -  #21
  0 Goals
  1 Assist
  1 Point
• Tuesday marks his fourth game back after missing the first 44 contests of the 2010-11 campaign with a torn right shoulder labrum.

• The 22-year-old was named an alternate captain for the Islanders last year in just his second full NHL season.

• Okposo, who had six points (2G-4A) in six games against Pittsburgh last season, played with Penguins defenseman Alex Goligoski for one season at the University of Minnesota in 2006-07.
Rick DiPietro
G  -  #39
  3.39 GAA
  .891 Save %
• The Winthrop, Mass. native was the fourth American-born player to be taken first overall in the NHL Entry Draft when the Islanders selected him with the top pick in 2000.

• Was limited to just eight games last season with knee problems after missing 41 games the season before that.

• Had a career year in 2006-07 when he got named to his first NHL All-Star Game and tied his personal best of six shutouts while ranking first in the league with 28.4 saves per game.
The New York Islanders head to CONSOL Energy Center on Tuesday for the second time this season. Despite their 15-25-7 record that has them ranked 14th in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders played a stifling defensive game against the Penguins in the two teams’ last meeting on Dec. 29 that earned New York a 2-1 shootout victory.

Goaltender Rick DiPietro was the catalyst behind his team’s stellar defensive effort in that game. But while he had quite the outing against the Penguins, he’s been hot and cold for the Islanders over the duration of this season. DiPietro has struggled with injuries that have kept him from achieving consistency.

What’s also affecting the Islanders is the injury bug that’s continuing to bite their skaters through the second half of the season. Former Penguin Mark Eaton and Mike Mottau each underwent hip surgery and are both done for the remainder of the 2010-11 campaign. Mark Streit, arguably the team’s best blueliner, has been out since Oct. 1 after undergoing left-shoulder surgery and is eyeing an April return. Their defensive corps did perform well against the Penguins on Dec. 29, with sophomore defenseman Andrew MacDonald leading the way with 27:44 minutes played and five blocked shots. The Islanders blocked a total of 28 shots on the night to the Penguins’ six.

While the Islanders may be spread thin on the back end, their strength lies up top. New York’s top line of Matt Moulson, John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau has been by and large the team’s most consistent trio, combining for 47 goals and 95 points. The Islanders also got a huge boost in both leadership and production with the recent return of Kyle Okposo, who ranked second in team scoring last year with 52 points (19G-33A). The 22-year-old Okposo has played just three games after missing the first 44 contests with a torn right shoulder labrum, but should be rounding into form soon.
  • The Penguins have dominated the Islanders in the post-lockout era, posting an overall record of 23-8-6 against the Islanders, including a 15-2-2 mark in Pittsburgh. They’re now 16-4-2 against the Islanders since the start of the 2007-08 season and 11-1-2 the past two seasons.
  • Despite outscoring the Islanders 53-30 over the past two seasons, the last two games between the Atlantic Division foes have been close affairs. Alex Goligoski netted the game-winning goal on Oct. 15 to give the Penguins a 3-2 overtime win over the Islanders at CONSOL Energy Center, while New York skated to a 2-1 shootout victory over Pittsburgh at Nassau Coliseum on Dec. 29, ending Sidney Crosby's point streak at 25 games.
  • The Penguins have been rolling at their brand-new arena, posting a 14-4-1 record since Nov. 12 after starting the year just 2-5 at CONSOL Energy Center. Included in that stretch was a seven-game home winning streak that ranks second (tied) in the NHL this season. For the season, the Penguins own a 16-9-1 home record. They’ve scored 87 goals at home this season, tied for second-most in the NHL.
  • Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang both missed Monday’s practice due to illness, and head coach Dan Bylsma expects them to both be in the lineup for Tuesday’s game. He added that Evgeni Malkin is “not likely” to suit up against the Islanders after missing the previous two contests.
  • The Penguins announced on Monday that captain Sidney Crosby would not be attending the 2011 NHL All-Star Game festivities this weekend in Raleigh in order to continue recovering from a concussion that’s sidelined him for the past eight games. The team has posted a winning 4-3-1 record in the absence of their leading scorer. Jordan Staal has been stepping up in Crosby’s stead, posting seven points (3G-4A) in those eight games.



Contain Their Top Line: The Islanders’ top line of Matt Moulson, John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau is quite the dangerous trio. They’ve been shouldering the brunt of their team’s offense throughout the season, combining for 47 of the team’s 117 goals and 95 total points. Tavares is putting forth a much more consistent season of hockey in his sophomore year, as he has 12 points in his past 11 games and exploded for his first career NHL hat trick on Jan. 15. Moulson assisted on all three goals and has three tallies in his past two contests, while Parenteau scored in both regulation and the shootout to power the Isles past the Penguins in their last meeting on Dec. 29.

Fast Start: The Islanders could never recover from Paul Gaustad’s goal just 15 seconds into the game in their 5-3 loss to Buffalo on Sunday. New York has allowed their opponent to tally first in nine of their past 10 contests and are now 4-22-4 on the season when they yield the first goal. A quick start for the Penguins will be crucial against the Islanders, who played a stifling trap-style defense against them after gaining a 1-0 lead just 34 seconds into the second period en route to a 2-1 shootout victory in the two teams’ last meeting.
F Mike Comrie, hip (IR)
F Sidney Crosby, concussion (indefinitely)
F Eric Godard, eye (IR)
F Evgeni Malkin, illness/knee (indefinitely)
D Mark Eaton, hip surgery (will miss remainder of season)
RW Trent Hunter, torn left MCL (late January)
G Nathan Lawson, strained MCL (early February)
D Milan Jurcina, upper-body (up to four weeks)
D Mike Mottau, hip surgery (will miss remainder of the season)
D Mark Streit, torn left labrum and rotator cuff (up to six months)
C Doug Weight, back spasms (indefinitely)
Crosby (32) Tavares (18)
Crosby (34) 3 players tied (18)
Crosby (66) Tavares (36)
Engelland/Rupp (76) Konopka (148)
Letang (+22) Grabner/ Jurcina (0)
Crosby (10) Tavares (8)
3 players tied (2)
Nielsen (3)
Fleury (22-11-2)
DiPietro (7-8-4)
Johnson (2.04) Roloson (2.64)
Johnson (.926) Roloson (.916)

Pascal Dupuis - Dupuis scored a beauty of a shorthanded goal against Carolina on Jan. 22, which proved to be the game-winner in a 3-2 victory over the Hurricanes. He now has three shorthanded points on the season, tied for second on the team and seventh in the league. The speedy Dupuis has been finding his groove for the Penguins even without injured linemate Sidney Crosby, as he has three points (2G-1A) in his last four outings.
Matt Moulson - Moulson has been carrying the Islanders’ offense in his last three games, scoring three of his team’s last five goals. He tallied twice in a 5-3 defeat at the hands of Buffalo on Sunday after scoring once in a 5-2 loss on Jan. 21, also to the Sabres. Moulson now has six points and two multiple-point efforts in his last five games, as he earned three helpers in a 5-3 victory over Buffalo on Jan. 15. His 17 goals and 29 points both rank second on the team.

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Author: Michelle Crechiolo
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