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Penguins

Game 23 Preview: Islanders Vs. Penguins

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

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins return home tonight to face the New York Islanders.

After a dominating 4-0 win over the Capitals on Wednesday, the Penguins will be looking to extend their winning streak to three games.

Paul Martin, Beau Bennett, Sidney Crosby and James Neal scored for the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury (13-6-0, 1.90 GAA. 924 save percentage) stopped all 18 shots he faced to earn his second shutout of the season.

After taking 18 minutes to register a shot on net against the Ducks on Monday, the Penguins came out flying against Washington. Pittsburgh peppered Braden Holtby all night en route to a 40-18 advantage in shots for the game, including 17 in the first period.

While Evgeni Malkin failed to light the lamp for a 15th straight game, he did chip in another two assists.

Malkin now has 22 points (three goals, 19 assists) in 22 games this season.

To the Malkin detractors, could he shoot the puck more? Absolutely.

However, he’s producing at a point per game clip and is two assists behind Joe Thornton for the league lead in that category. He’s also only six points behind Sidney Crosby in the NHL’s scoring race.

The goals will come. It’s only a matter of time. Despite the goal drought, he’s still playing at a high level and is helping the Penguins put pucks in the net.

Things could be a whole lot worse than that.

Anyway, the Islanders enter tonight’s game tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the basement of the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders have gone 2-6-0 in their last eight games.

The injury bug has hit the Islanders of late as they are currently without defensemen Brian Strait (upper body) and Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion). They are also missing goaltender Evgeni Nabokov (groin).

The Islanders made a big splash earlier this season by acquiring sniper Thomas Vanek from the Buffalo Sabres.

Vanek has missed the last five games with an upper-body injury, but may return to the lineup tonight.

In six games with the Islanders, Vanek has one goal and two assists.

In goal, Kevin Poulin (3-6-0, 2.79 GAA, .898 save percentage) has been getting the bulk of the work in Nabokov’s absence. Poulin has struggled a bit lately having allowed three or more goals in four of his last five starts.

Poulin has appeared in three games against the Penguins and has posted an 0-1 record with a 1.51 GAA and a .954 save percentage.

For Pittsburgh, they will be looking to even up the season series with the Islanders.

On Oct. 25, New York scored three goals in the third period to earn a comeback victory over the Penguins in their first meeting since the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals last spring.

With the Penguins heading on the road to Montreal tomorrow night, it remains to be seen if Jeff Zatkoff (1-2-0, 3.36 GAA, .865 save percentage) will get a chance to earn his first home win of the season tonight.

Zatkoff was in goal against the Islanders on Oct. 25 and played well through two periods. In the third, the Penguins got away from what made them successful in the contest and the Islanders capitalized.

Zatkoff hasn’t played since he shutout the Blue Jackets on Nov. 2.

Meanwhile, Fleury is 18-7-3 with a 2.54 GAA and .915 save percentage against the Islanders in his career.

UPDATE 11:45 A.M. – Zatkoff will get the start in goal tonight against the Islanders.

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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