Penguins vs. Islanders, Game 56: Lines, Notes & How to Watch
The Pittsburgh Penguins, who have lost three of their past four games, could use a good break as they prepare to face the New York Islanders tonight at 7:08 at PPG Paints Arena.
And they apparently are getting one — or maybe a few.
Mike Sullivan confirmed after the Penguins’ game-day skate that No. 1 goalie Tristan Jarry will make his first start since being injured Jan. 22 in New Jersey.
What’s more, the Islanders, whose injured list already included a number of high-profile forwards, will be without their most dynamic player, Mathew Barzal.
Barzal, who has at least one point in each of his past four games against the Penguins, is out indefinitely because of an unspecified lower-body injury apparently caused by a hit from Boston’s Craig Smith early in the Islanders’ 6-2 loss to the Bruins Saturday.
New York recalled forward Arnaud Durandeau, who has 13 goals and 20 assists in 48 American Hockey League games with Bridgeport this season, to take Barzal’s spot on its major-league roster.
The Islanders also will not have forwards Josh Bailey, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Cal Clutterbuck and Oliver Wahlstrom, all of whom are injured.
The Penguins, of course, know what it’s like to be without key players.
Jarry has missed 16 of their past 18 games, and defenseman Kris Letang has had to sit out 17 of their first 55 games because of injuries and illness.
It remains to be seen how Jarry’s play will be affected, in the short term, by his extended layoff. He has taken part in a few full-team practices recently, but game conditions can’t really be replicated during such workouts.
The Penguins and Islanders entered the day tied for the first wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, although the Penguins have four games in hand.
New York has been able to catch up to the Penguins, at least in part, because of its success against Metropolitan Division opponents, going 11-5-1 in those games.
The Penguins, conversely, are 5-6-4 against Metro opponents, including a 0-5-3 skid inside the division since a 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers exactly two months ago.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
Expected New York Islanders Lines
Penguins power play: 41 for 191, 21.5%, 15th (tie)
Penguins penalty-kill: 36 for 178, 79.8%, 14th
Islanders power play: 29 for 167, 17.4%, 26th
Islanders penalty-kill: 30 for 169, 82.3%, 5th
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
The Penguins have won their past five home games against the Islanders and are 6-0-1 in their past seven against New York at PPG Paints Arena.
Kris Letang has seven points in eight games since returning to the lineup on Jan. 24.
Sidney Crosby leads the Penguins with 19 multiple-point games this season, four more than Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel. The latter two are tied for the team lead in multiple-goal games with four each.
Crosby’s career plus-minus rating of +39 against the Islanders is the best any opposing player ever has posted against New York.
The Penguins have faced four 5-on-3 power plays this season and not allowed a goal while down by two men.
Defenseman Jeff Petry has four assists in his past five games at PPG Paints Arena.
Islanders center Bo Horvat had three goals and an assist in his first four games after being acquired from Vancouver, but has been held point-less in the past three.
New York’s power play has scored six goals in 19 opportunities during the past seven games.
Islanders forward Brock Nelson has 16 goals in 37 career games against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
New York center Casey Cizikas does not have a goal in his past 15 games or an point in his past 12.
How to Watch
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 105.9 the X