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NHL Playoffs

Penguins Have Momentum: Game 4 Lines, Notes & Matchups vs. Islanders

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Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders

The Pittsburgh Penguins have the chance to put the New York Islanders in a sleeper hold and take a commanding 3-1 series lead at the Nassau Coliseum on Saturday afternoon (3 p.m.). The Penguins denied New York successive goals after New York rallied to tie the game in the third period, and the Penguins won 5-4 on a late Brandon Tanev goal.

But that’s only part of the story, as the game was the wildest Penguins playoff game in years. The Penguins took six minor penalties in one post-whistle scrum just five minutes into the third period. New York took five, though it is debatable if New York didn’t take several more, too.

The Penguins dander was up, but they channeled that into goals by Jeff Carter and Tanev the Game 3 win and 2-1 series lead. If the Penguins win on Saturday, they will have a chance to end the series on Monday, which would make today the final game ever at the Nassau Coliseum.

New York head coach Barry Trotz opened to door to dumping starting goalie Semyon Varlamov in Game 4 in favor of Game 1 winner Ilya Sorokin.

“We’ll have to look at it,” Trotz said. 

The momentum is clearly on the Penguins’ side after the Islanders threw everything at the Penguins but lost. Though anyone who has been through the playoff grinds knows, a series can turn on one play, one call, or a singular moment.

The shot totals in the series have far exceeded expectations, which favors the Penguins. The hitting total heavily favors New York.

We can confidently predict Tristan Jarry will start in goal for the Penguins (or Mike Sullivan had better have a good explanation). New York head coach Barry Trotz will speak this afternoon. We don’t expect him to tip his hand on starting goalies, but Sorokin would be our play.

Both teams scored their first power-play goal of the series in Game 3, and both were in the third period. Anthony Beauvillier scored or New York, Jeff Carter for the Penguins. Each team is 1-for-7 on the power play in the series.

Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines & (regular season) Special Teams

LWCRW
Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyBryan Rust
Jason Zucker Evgeni MalkinKasperi Kapanen
Jared McCannJeff CarterFreddy Gaudreau
Zach Aston-Reese Teddy BluegerBrandon Tanev
LDRD
Brian DumoulinKris Letang
Mike MathesonCody Ceci
Marcus PetterssonJohn Marino
Expected Islanders Lines  
Leo KomarovMathew BarzalJordan Eberle
Anthony BeauvillierBrock NelsonJosh Bailey
Kyle PalmieriJ-G PageauOliver Wahlstrom
Matt MartinCasey CzikasCal Clutterbuck
Adam PelechRyan Pulock
Nick LeddyScott Mayfield
Andy GreeneNoah Dobson
TEAMPower PlayPenalty Kill
Pittsburgh Penguins23.7%, 4th NHL77.4%, 27th NHL
New York Islanders18.8%, 21st NHL83.7%, 6th NHL

Pittsburgh Penguins vs.New York Islanders Tactical Preview

Much is being made of Jeff Carter and Brandon Tanev. The pair deserve attention, but the Penguins’ depth is the story. Sidney Crosby-Evgeni Malkin-Jeff Carter-Teddy Blueger are as solid down the middle as any team has iced in a long time. If Carter doesn’t keep scoring at a Wayne Gretzky pace, the team is well-positioned with all-time greats to pick up the slack.

Tactically, it is the Penguins on their toes vs. New York trying to hit them. Or tackle them. Or punch them. Face washes. Jabs. Stick whacks—anything New York can do to disrupt the flow of the game.

When the game is hockey, the Penguins have dominated the series. When New York can get physical, legal or otherwise, the worm has turned.

The Penguins have decisively won each of the first three first periods in the series, as defined by the style of play, shots, chances, and goals.

The Islanders can’t/won’t let that happen in Game 4. Put on your hip boots. It’s going to get thick in Game 4.

The matchup the Islanders have been able to exploit is against Evgeni Malkin’s line. Malkin is not 100%. Trotz was able to get his heavy and productive fourth line against Malkin a few times in Game 3, which turned the tide for the Islanders.

The Penguins fourth line has held Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle in check, while the Penguins’ top line has been freed to attack. Beyond goaltending, circle that success as the difference in the series.

The Penguins have also dealt with the New York forecheck better than New York has dealt with the Penguins’ attack. Continue watching that. As long as the Penguins escape their zone with speed, they will control their own fate.

The Penguins could use a goal or the best from Jared McCann. Jason Zucker scored in Game 3, and more from him wouldn’t hurt the Penguins’ chances, either.

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes

-Scott Mayfield became the first Islanders defenseman since 2013 to record three or more points in a playoff game (Mark Streit vs. PIT). He leads the Islanders in points (4), plus-minus rating (+3), shots (12), and blocked shots (9) through the series. He had seven shots on goal in Game 2, becoming the first Islanders defenseman since 2002 to record seven or more shots in a playoff game ending in regulation.

-Cal Clutterbuck scored twice in Game 3 for the first multi-goal playoff game of his career.

-Ryan Pulock matched a career-high for hits in a playoff game (8) in Game 3.

-Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan has 41 career playoff wins behind the Penguins bench. He is two shy of Dan Bylsma for the franchise lead.

-The Penguins are 18-7 in seven-game series in which they have a 2-1 series lead. They’re 13-5 when they have home-ice advantage.

-Jeff Carter has three playoff goals in three playoff games for the Penguins, including two in Game 3. He has four points (3-1-4) in the series.

-Carter has 15 points (12-3-15) in 17 total games since the Penguins acquired him from the LA Kings at the NHL trade deadline.

-Evgeni Malkin quietly had a pair of assists in Game 3. In his career, he is averaging 1.45 points per playoff game against New York.

-Sidney Crosby’s 190 playoff points are tied with Brett Hull (190) for the seventh-most points in NHL postseason history.

How to Watch, 3 p.m.-ish

TV: AT&T NBC; Radio: 105.9 The X

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Steve
Steve
4 months ago

Momentum is a dangerous thing on the road up 2 games to 1. I hope the team isn’t thinking that way.

Jack McCrory
Jack McCrory
4 months ago

Malkin does not help us team he hurts it. If he can’t skate he should be on the ice and it’s obvious that he’s having trouble skating. Besides taking penalties.

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