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Pens-Islanders Preview

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

PENGUINS (18-9-1) at ISLANDERS (8-15-4)

  WHEN: December 3, 2013 - 7:00 p.m.  |  WHERE: Nassau Coliseum
WATCH: ROOT SPORTS  |  LISTEN: Penguins Radio 24/7, 105.9 FM

Last 10: Pittsburgh 7-2-1; New York 2-7-1

Season series:
The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders play the third of four games. It is the first played at Nassau Coliseum since Brooks Orpik's overtime goal in Game 6 of the 2012-13 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals eliminated the Islanders from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The teams split the prior two games played, and New York is 5-4-3 in its past 12 home games against Pittsburgh.

Big story:
A team ripe with expectations off its run to the postseason last season, the Islanders had a 4-10-1 record in November and has been outscored 25-11 during a six-game winless streak, which, according to the team's website, is the longest since enduring six games from Oct. 20 through Nov. 3, 2011 (0-4-2).

"The atmosphere in this building during the playoffs and last spring, there's nothing I want more than to recreate that," Capuano told the New York Post. "I'm just as frustrated as [the fans] are. We're doing everything we can to turn this around."

Team Scope:

Penguins: Pittsburgh has been hit hard by injuries, having lost 114 man-games through its first 27 games prior to a 5-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Saturday. The fact the Penguins own the second-best record in the Eastern Conference is a testament to their depth and resiliency.

"We certainly are not a team that sounds any alarms or bells, scraps game plans or how we're going to play because of an injury here or there," coach Dan Bylsma told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We've always felt like we can win a hockey game and be a good team regardless of the injuries."

Islanders: New York's 3-2 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals on Saturday was a microcosm of how the season has gone on Long Island. The Islanders were 48.9 seconds from ending their losing streak until Nicklas Backstrom's shorthanded goal tied the game and Alex Ovechkin won it 2:07 into the extra session, dropping New York's record in its past 13 games to 2-10-1.

The Islanders have had major problems in the third period, when they've been outscored 31-17, including 24-8 in their past 17 games.

"We finally get the lead and instead of keep playing hard, we sat back for no reason," Thomas Vanek said Saturday. "We should have took it to them for 60 minutes, and not 59."

Who's hot:
Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin was named NHL First Star of the Week after leading Pittsburgh to a 3-0-1 record with a League-leading six assists and nine points. Malkin, who endured a 15-game goalless streak, is riding an eight-game point streak (four goals, 13 assists). Forward James Neal has eight goals and 16 points since returning 12 games ago from an upper-body injury. … Islanders captain John Tavares (11 goals, 19 assists) has not gone pointless in consecutive games this season. Casey Cizikas has points in six of his past eight (three goals, three assists).

Injury report:
Penguins forward Chuck Kobasew (lower body) returned to practice Monday. Goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clot) told reporters Saturday he feels great and is not experiencing any health issues, but he is still taking medication and remains out indefinitely. Rob Scuderi (broken ankle), Beau Bennett (wrist/hand surgery), Tanner Glass (broken hand) and Paul Martin (fractured tibia) are on injured reserve. … Defenseman Brian Strait (upper body) and goalie Evgeni Nabokov (strained groin) did individual work Monday before Islanders practice, skating for the first time since their respective injuries. Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) will see a specialist early this week and may join the Islanders on the road if he's cleared to skate.

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