Islanders-Penguins Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 28, 2013
The Pittsburgh Penguins are one of two Eastern Conference teams without a home win, but they've only had one opportunity to take the ice at Consol Energy Center. They have to like their chances in their second. The Penguins look for a 14th win in the last 15 visits from the New York Islanders on Tuesday night. Pittsburgh (3-2-0) played four of its first five away from home, and won for a third time on the road with a 2-1 shootout victory over Ottawa on Sunday. James Neal scored the Penguins' lone goal in the first period, but he, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin beat Craig Anderson in the shootout. "It was a little sloppy at times, but you've got to win them like that,'' said Neal, who has scored all of his team-high four goals in the Penguins' victories. "It's going to be like that at times this year.'' The team's sloppiest performance thus far, though, came in a 5-2 home loss to Toronto on Wednesday. The Penguins took 31 minutes in penalties - nearly half of their season total - and allowed each goal in the final two periods. Pittsburgh has scored first in all five games, and led 2-0 in the first period at Winnipeg on Friday on a pair of Crosby goals before falling 4-2. Two days after the Penguins blew a two-goal lead in Winnipeg, the Islanders (2-2-1) did the same. New York's loss may have been a bit more difficult to swallow. The Islanders scored three times in the first 10 minutes of the third period to take a 4-2 lead, but allowed the Jets to tie it before Evander Kane gave Winnipeg a 5-4 win in overtime. "We just have to regroup and get better," goaltender Evgeni Nabokov said. "We've got to move on. I thought that in the third period we came out with a little bit of intensity. It felt like we could take it to them, and we did, actually. But we need 60 minutes of effort from (all) the guys on the ice." The Islanders haven't given 60 minutes of good effort very often at Pittsburgh, but they did win in their most recent trip. New York snapped a 13-game skid there with a 5-3 victory March 27 despite being outshot 54-25. Nabokov, who has a 3.49 goals-against average in four starts this season, left that game after two periods with an injury, but he's had the Penguins' number in recent years. Nabokov is 4-1-0 with a 1.38 GAA in his last six starts against Pittsburgh, three of which came with San Jose. If the Islanders want to win again in Pittsburgh, some production from John Tavares wouldn't hurt. The team's scoring leader in 2013 with seven points, Tavares has played seven straight games against the Penguins without recording a point. Crosby failed to get a point as Pittsburgh lost the last two meetings with New York last season. He recorded 20 as the Penguins went 6-0-1 in the previous seven matchups. Pittsburgh is 13-0-2 against the Islanders when Crosby scores a goal. Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen missed the team's two losses against New York last season, and they may not have him Tuesday - or perhaps for even longer. Niskanen took a hard slide into the boards in Ottawa and suffered a lower-body injury, the severity of which is not yet clear.
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