The Pittsburgh Penguins (9-6-4) have won four in a row and allowed merely two goals in that time. The Penguins rolled through four Canadian teams, including the hapless Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks. On Friday, they get Metro Division rival New York Islanders at the brand new UBS Arena.
The puck will drop just after 7:30 p.m.
The Islanders are recovering from their own COVID outbreak. Nine players are out of the lineup, including seven COVID protocols. Zdeno Chara, Keiffer Bellows, Adam Pelech, Andy Greene, Ross Johnston, Anders Lee, and Josh Bailey are in protocol.
Baily returned to the ice on Friday morning.
Ryan Pulock, Brock Nelson, and Noah Dobson are injured.
The Penguins dealt with their lean roster and getting healthy. Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust are getting stronger as they return from COVID and a lower-body injury, respectively.
The Penguins rallied from one game under .500 to a wild-card playoff position. Being in a playoff position is a symbolic market at the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.
The New York Islanders were struggling before their lineup lost a gaggle of players. Of course, the Penguins won’t offer much pity, even if they can empathize.
The Penguins played a loose game against Vancouver, but that was the traditional trap game: the first game home after a road trip. The Penguins still managed to knock four goals and limited the toothless Vancouver Canucks to one.
What to Watch:
The Penguins are playing with energy and structure. The forwards are executing the forecheck well, and the best defense is a good offense.
It also doesn’t hurt that Tristan Jarry is seeing beachballs.
Head coach Mike Sullivan said Jarry will start.
The Penguins must protect their backup goalie until he gets his legs.
The Penguins will also deal with their old nemesis–the Islanders’ fourth line with Czikas and Clutterbuck. The Penguins haven’t faced a heavy team in a while but their bottom-six has been filling the net and winning the defensive battles, too.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Dominik Simon||Jeff Carter||Evan Rodrigues|
|Brian Boyle||Teddy Blueger||Brock McGinn|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Mike Matheson||Chad Ruhwedel|
Expected Islanders Lines, per PuckPedia.com:
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||15.1% (11-73) 27th NHL||92.2% (5-64) 1st NHL|
|Anaheim Ducks||26.3% (20-76) 5th NHL||86.3% (10-76) 3rd NHL|
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
*Believe it or not, the Penguins have points in 12 of its last 14 games against New York (9-2-3) and is 12-4-3 over its last 19 games versus the Islanders.
*Bryan Rust has nine goals (12 points total) in his last 11 games against the New York Islanders.
*Evan Rodrigues picked up his 100th NHL point with a goal on Wednesday. Rodrigues now has seven goals in 19 games.
*Jake Guentzel has points in every road game this season (7GP, 5-4-9)
*In 75 career games, Sidney Crosby has 122 points (38-83-122) against the Islanders.
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T Sportsnet, Sportsnet; Radio: 105.9 The X