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Penguins-Islanders Preview

Monday, 10.24.2011 / 7:43 PM

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Penguins-Islanders Preview
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Islanders

Faced with overcoming yet another injury, the Pittsburgh Penguins don't seem too concerned about last year's rift with the New York Islanders.

Regrouping from back-to-back losses remains the focus of Islanders coach Jack Capuano.

Seeking a fourth consecutive victory, the Penguins look to continue their domination of the Islanders when the teams begin a home-and-home set Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum.

Pittsburgh (6-2-2), already dealing with injuries to stars Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (sore right knee), is expected to be without Zbynek Michalek for four-to-six weeks after the defenseman broke a finger on his right hand during Saturday's 4-1 win over New Jersey.

Michalek had played a key role in the Penguins killing all but one of their opponents' 33 power-play opportunities this season.

" 'Z' is exceptional at it and excels (in the penalty kill position) but ... we are going to count on some other guys to step up and do that." coach Dan Bylsma told the team's official site.

While Malkin, who has missed the previous five games, is making the trip to New York, it's unknown if he will play when these teams renew last season's rivalry.

Nine days after Brent Johnson knocked down Rick DiPietro in a rare goalie fight, the Penguins and Islanders (3-3-0) combined for 65 penalties, 346 penalty minutes, 10 ejections, 15 fighting majors and 20 misconducts as New York recorded a rare victory in this series, 9-3 on Feb. 11.

Islanders forwards Trevor Gillies and Matt Martin were suspended for nine and four games, respectively, while the team was hit with a $100,000 fine.

Both Pittsburgh and New York, however, have moved on.

"In terms of what happened last year, we're certainly not going into this game with any kind of thought of repaid debts from last year," Bylsma said. "It's about this game and right now for us and where we are at in our 11th game and we have our sights set on different goals and where we want to be in the Atlantic Division.

"We're going back-to-back with the Islanders and as far as we are concerned, it's a chance to put some distance (between us) and win some games against a team that is in our division."

Capuano, whose Islanders suffered a 4-1 defeat to Tampa Bay on Thursday before falling 4-2 to Florida on Saturday, shares the same sentiment.

"For me, it's not even a rivalry, it's just another game because obviously the last two games we didn't play a full 60 minutes, so it doesn't matter who we are playing right now," he told the Islanders' official website.

Given its history in this series, New York can't like its chances of betting back on track Tuesday. The Penguins are 19-4-2 over their last 25 games against the Islanders.

Marc-Andre Fleury has shined during that stretch, going 8-0-2 with a 1.70 goals-against average.

The Islanders will also need to be wary of Jordan Staal, who continues to come up big for injury-ravaged Pittsburgh. Staal scored twice against the Devils and is tied for second on the team with eight points.

"Staalsy's a guy who flies under the radar with the superstars on this team," fellow 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."

James Neal leads the Penguins with eight goals and nine points. He has goals in three straight games, but has no points in four career contests against the Islanders.

New York's Al Montoya, 2-1-0 with a 1.35 GAA at home this season, made 35 saves in his only career appearance against Pittsburgh - a 4-3 shootout loss April 8.

Evgeni Nabokov went 8-1-0 with a 1.62 GAA and two shutouts versus the Penguins while with San Jose.

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 29 '12PIT 3 at NYI 5K. Okposo
Mar 27 '12NYI 5 at PIT 3D. Ullstrom
Dec 10 '11PIT 6 at NYI 3P. Dupuis
Nov 21 '11NYI 0 at PIT 5S. Crosby
Oct 27 '11NYI 2 at PIT 3 - SOE. Malkin
Oct 25 '11PIT 3 at NYI 0P. Dupuis
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
J. Neal11819-2621
J. Staal11639+2820
P. Dupuis11358+3601
K. Letang9178+5810
M. Cooke11347+4410
R. Park9246+4401
C. Kunitz11224+0211
M. Niskanen11134+3410
E. Malkin4134+0811
J. Vitale11123+1201
A. Asham10123+1700
Z. Michalek10123-5600
T. Kennedy6123+0200
S. Sullivan11033+0200
P. Martin11033-4400
C. Adams11112-4000
D. Engelland11022+41100
M. Letestu8011-5200
B. Orpik3011+4200
B. Lovejoy10000+01100
S. MacIntyre4000+0200
D. Jeffrey3000+0000
B. Strait1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
M. Fleury86-2-0152371.87.937
B. Johnson31-0-26801.91.925
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
J. Tavares76410+0831
P. Parenteau7178+0400
M. Streit7156-4810
M. Moulson7224+1001
M. Grabner7202-3000
B. Rolston6022-1000
F. Nielsen7101-2001
A. MacDonald7101-3010
M. Eaton7011+0200
K. Okposo7011-2200
T. Hamonic7011-21100
M. Mottau7000-1600
S. Staios7000-2600
M. Reasoner7000-21000
M. Martin7000-2700
J. Bailey7000-3400
J. Pandolfo7000-4200
B. Comeau5000-1200
T. Gillies3000-1000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
A. Montoya42-2-081152.02.930
E. Nabokov31-2-07912.37.923