PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for a third straight game when they host the New York Islanders Tuesday night.
Crosby has missed the previous nine games after suffering a concussion, while Malkin has missed the last two games with a sinus infection and knee injury.
On Monday, Crosby was officially ruled out of the NHL All-Star Game so he can focus on his recovery.
Without the duo, the Penguins are 1-1 and will be looking to win their second straight game after holding on for a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
The Penguins have been lucky with the timing of the injuries as they have faced two teams that are not currently in the playoff picture. Tonight, they welcome an Islander team that is engaged in a battle for a lottery pick in the upcoming draft this summer.
The Islanders (15-25-7-37 points) are currently fourth in the Atlantic Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference. Only the New Jersey Devils (16-29-3-35 points) have a worse record in the NHL.
Since the calendar turned to 2011, the Islanders are 4-6-1.
This will be the third meeting between the two clubs this season. They have split the previous two games, with the home team prevailing in both.
Both of the previous meetings could not be settled in regulation. Alex Goligoski scored in overtime on Oct. 15 to give the Pens a 3-2 win, while Rick DiPietro shut the door on three of the four Penguins’ shooters in the shootout to win 2-1.
The Islanders are led by sophomore star John Tavares, who scored his first NHL goal against the Penguins in his first NHL game on Oct. 3, 2009.
Tavares has 18 goals and 18 assists in 44 games this season. Behind him are forwards PA Parenteau (12 goals, 18 assits) and Blake Comeau (13 goals, 17 assists) with 30 points.
In addition, no Islanders player has a plus rating this season. Only Michael Grabner and Milan Jurcina hold an even rating.
The Islanders are also embroiled in what is slowly becoming a waiver wire fiasco.
Over the weekend, former San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov signed a deal with the Detroit Red Wings. However, because he had played in the KHL in Russia this season, he needed to clear waivers in order to join the Red Wings.
The Islanders claimed him and Nabokov has reportedly said he will not report to the team.
The full archive on what’s going on with him can be found on TSN.ca. In any event, he will not be in net tonight against the Penguins.
Instead, it will be either Kevin Poulin (2-1-1, 2.88 GAA, .917 save percentage) or Rick DiPietro (7-8-4, 3.39 GAA, .891 save percentage) in net.
For Pittsburgh, they will need to continue to get secondary scoring while Crosby and Malkin are out of the lineup.
Against Carolina, three different Penguins scored to fuel the 3-2 victory. Pascal Dupuis’ shorthanded breakaway goal proved to be the difference in the game, while Marc-Andre Fleury (22-11-2, 2.25 GAA, .922 save percentage) continued to be a rock in goal.
Fleury made 24 saves including several big ones in the games final moments to preserve the win.
He’s the likely candidate to man the pipes tonight against the Islanders. In his career, Fleury is 11-4-1-3 with a 2.52 GAA and .918 save percentage when facing the Islanders.
The Penguins have enjoyed a lot of success against the Islanders in recent history. Since the lockout, Pittsburgh is 15-2-2 against New York at home.
Tonight’s game will be the final game before the NHL ALL-Star Game. Their next game will be on Feb. 1 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
The puck is set to drop at 7 p.m. and can be seen on FSN Pittsburgh.