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Penguins vs. Islanders, Game 54: Lines, Notes & How to Watch



Pittsburgh Penguins game vs. New York Islanders

Anders Lee is one of those guys who always seems to feast on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Although his career stats against them — 12 goals and six assists in 32 games — are nothing special, Lee, the New York Islanders’ captain, feels like an offensive force almost every time his team faces the Penguins.

He certainly was during New York’s 5-1 victory at UBS Arena Dec. 27, when he recorded one of his three two-goal games this season.

Considering all of that, Lee probably is glad that the Penguins will visit UBS Arena tonight at 7:08, because he has just one point, an assist, in the past five games.

New York coach Lane Lambert is sufficiently concerned about Lee’s scoring drought that he’s moved him onto the Islanders’ first line, alongside Bo Horvat and Mathew Barzal, in an effort to jump-start that aspect of his game.

“We think he can provide a little more and we’re looking forward to him doing that,” Lambert told reporters after practice Thursday. “He can forecheck extremely hard and then he goes to the net, and so does Horvat … There’s a dual-threat net-presence there, which gives Barzal an opportunity.”

Another Islanders forward who routinely makes life miserable for the Penguins, Brock Nelson, is on something of an offensive roll, with a goal in each of his past three games.

They will not, however, have to contend with Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who has played well against them since his days in Ottawa, because he is on injured-reserve.

This will be an important game for the Penguins, who hold the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff field but are just one point ahead of Washington and Florida.

It will, however, be downright hyper-critical for the Islanders, who are two points behind the Penguins and have played four more games than them.

New York has been even more inconsistent this season than the Penguins, who will be trying to win consecutive games for just the third time since mid-December.

The Islanders are 0-2-1 in their past three games after winning the previous four. That surge followed a stretch during which New York went 0-4-2.

Something to keep in mind tonight: Although the Penguins are just 2-13-1 when trailing after two periods, they won’t necessarily be doomed if they’re down at the second intermission, because the Islanders have won just four of the past nine games they’ve led after 40 minutes (4-2-3).

The Penguins called off their game-day skate, so Mike Sullivan is scheduled to meet with reporters about two hours before the opening faceoff, at which time he is expected to identify his starting goaltender and give any pertinent injury updates.

Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines












Expected New York Islanders Lines, per












Special Teams

Penguins power play: 40 for 185, 21.6%, 17th

Penguins penalty-kill: 33 for 172, 80.8%, 12th

Islanders power play: 28 for 163, 17.2%, 27th

Islanders penalty-kill: 29 for 165, 82.4%, 5th

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes

After the game, which will wrap up a four-game road trip, the Pittsburgh Penguins will return home to prepare for a game against New Jersey Saturday, It will have the unusual starting time of 5:38 p.m.

The Penguins are 19-5-4 this season when deploying the line of Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Rickard Rakell. Members of that unit have combined for 36 goals and 48 assists in their 28 games together.

Guentzel and Crosby are among the players in a seven-way tie for fifth place in the NHL in game-winning goals, with six each.

Crosby has 128 points in 79 games against the Islanders, third-most of any opponent in that franchise’s history. He trails only Jaromir Jagr (155) and Mario Lemieux (131).

Jason Zucker will be appearing in his 600th NHL game.

Marcus Pettersson is three blocked shots away from tying his career-high of 108.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost a total of just seven games by one or two goals in regulation, but nine in overtime or shootouts.

The Islanders are 10-5-1 inside the Metro this season, including that 5-1 victory against the Penguins Dec. 27.

Islanders center Bo Horvat, acquired recently from Vancouver, has scored 12 power-play goals, more than any two teammates combined.

New York is 8-15-3 when giving up the first goal of the game.

Mathew Barzal is the only Islander to score during a shootout this season. He is 1-for-3; the rest of the team is 0-for-7.

New York winger Zach Parise, who will play in his 1,200th career game tonight, does not have an assist in his past 20 games.

The Islanders plan to honor Billy Smith, their No. 1 goalie during the team’s dynasty days in the early 1980s, this evening.

How to Watch

TV: AT&T SportsNet

Radio: 105.9 the X