Penguins

Shea-ved Ice: Islanders Vs. Penguins Preview

By: Casey Shea
(Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Once again, the Pittsburgh Penguins have a chance to be in first place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference with a win tonight against the New York Islanders.

Currently, the Penguins are sitting one point behind the New York Rangers, who will go on the road to take on the Minnesota Wild tonight.

Obviously, the Penguins need to win tonight and get help from the Wild, but the possibility of waking up in first place tomorrow is in play.

The Penguins bounced back from an 8-4 loss to the Senators on Saturday with a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.

Sidney Crosby scored in both games over the weekend, which marked the first tallies of his most recent return to the lineup.

With the win on Sunday, Marc-Andre Fleury (41-14-4, 2.24 GAA, .918 save percentage) set a new career high in wins with 41.

As for the Islanders, they are fighting to stay out of the basement in the Eastern Conference. Heading into tonight’s game, their 73 points are two better than the last place Montreal Canadiens and they also have a game in hand.

However, they are only five points out of 10th in the conference. While the playoffs are virtually out of reach, they could have an effect on the Eastern Conference playoff seeding.

Tonight’s game will be the fifth meeting this season between the two teams, with the final game coming on Thursday on Long Island.

The Penguins have won all four of the previous meetings and have shut the Islanders out twice. So far, the Penguins have outscored New York 17-5.

Up front, the Islanders have three players who have already eclipsed the 60-point plateau this season.

John Tavares is leading the way with 74 points (31 goals, 44 assists), while PA Parenteau (16 goals, 49 assists) and Matt Moulson (34 goals, 30 assists) have 65 and 64 points respectively.

Last week, the Islanders signed goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to a one-year extension reportedly worth $2.75 million.

Nabokov is 18-18-3 this season with a 2.54 GAA and a .913 save percentage. He has won his last two starts, but is only 3-3-2 in the month of March.

Against the Penguins, Nabokov is 8-2 with a 1.69 GAA and .938 save percentage. He has also shut the Penguins out twice.

The last time Crosby faced the Islanders was back on Nov. 21, when he returned to the lineup for the first time in nearly 11 months. Crosby wasted no time to add to his highlight reel with a gorgeous backhand shot to the shelf just over five minutes into the first period.

Crosby finished the game with two goals and two assists to lead the Penguins to a 5-0 win.

Against the Islanders, Crosby has 66 points (20 goals, 46 assists) in just 34 career games. He also has five goals and 22 assists on the power play against New York.

With a goal and an assist against the Devils, Evgeni Malkin now sits at 97 points (46 goals, 51 assists) for the year.

Malkin has fared well against the Islanders and it is certainly possible that he could reach the 100 point mark this evening.

In 34 games, Malkin has 45 points (18 goals, 27 assists) with five goals and 12 assists on the power play.

In goal, Fleury has also done quite well against the Islanders. Heading into tonight, Fleury is 17-4-3 with one tie to go along with a 2.28 GAA and a .925 save percentage. He has also shut the Islanders out four times in his career.

The puck is set to drop at 7 p.m. and you can watch the game on Root Sports.

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sheavedice

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