Pens return home to face Isles
(Sports Network) - A road-heavy start to the season has the Pittsburgh Penguins set to play in front of their home crowd for only the second time on Tuesday night.
The Pens face a welcomed opponent as they play host to the New York Islanders, who seek a rare victory in Western Pennsylvania on their current road trip.
The Penguins have played four of their first five on the road, losing their only home contest 5-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 23. They followed that setback with a loss in Winnipeg last Friday before snapping the two-game slide with Sunday's 2-1 shootout triumph in Ottawa.
James Neal had the regulation tally for Pittsburgh, his fourth goal in five games, and was one of three shootout scorers. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped the first skater he faced in the breakaway session, but was beaten by the next two Ottawa shooters. However, Evgeni Malkin's third-round goal gave Pittsburgh the victory.
Sidney Crosby also had a shootout goal and Fleury made 31 saves to help his club improve to 3-1 on the road this season.
"It was a little sloppy at times, but you've got to win them like that," Neal said. "It's going to be like that at times this year. Fleury was big for us tonight."
Pittsburgh did lose defenseman Matt Niskanen to a lower-body injury in the first period and he did not return to the game. He is not expected to play in this contest.
The Penguins still face a good chance at picking up their first home win if history is any indication. They have won their season series with the Islanders in each of the past five years and have won 19 of their last 22 at home against New York, outscoring the Isles 89-47 in that span.
New York has won the past two encounters, sweeping a home-and-home set last March, with the win in Pittsburgh snapping a 13-game series road losing streak.
The Islanders play the fourth contest of a five-game swing on Tuesday and have earned three of a possible six points thus far. They have lost two straight as the Isles are coming off a 5-4 overtime setback to the Jets on Sunday.
New York got goals from John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Mark Streit in the first 9:53 of the third period to grab a two-goal lead, but Winnipeg netted a pair of goals just 65 seconds apart to force overtime and then saw Evander Kane beat Evgeni Nabokov on a rebound 1:59 into overtime.
The Islanders allowed their first power-play goal of the season, ending their streak at 16 straight kills. That included the first three of Sunday's game before Winnipeg's Dustin Byfuglien scored on the man advantage with 7:01 left in the third to pull the Jets within one.
"I didn't think we played hockey in the first period. Again, you can say they played well, and I do give them credit, but we were down three or four power plays right off the bat," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "That changed the whole momentum."
Nabokov finished with 30 saves and Tavares had two assists to go along with his first goal of the season. He had 31 tallies last season and currently leads New York with seven points.
The Islanders are 1-1-1 on their road trip, which ends Thursday in New Jersey.
01/29 11:05:13 ET