NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, February 25th (All times eastern)
New York Islanders (18-35-6) at Pittsburgh Penguins (29-26-6), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Still outside the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, the Penguins can't afford to be without Sidney Crosby heading down the stretch. However, the Pens captain is out tonight with a sore groin, as Pittsburgh hosts the road-challenged New York Islanders at Mellon Arena.
Pittsburgh entered this season as the reigning Eastern Conference champions, but currently find themselves 10th overall in the standings, four points out of a playoff spot. The Penguins have already made a coaching change this year but continue to be frustrated by the lack of results on the ice.
Crosby's frustration showed on Sunday afternoon, as Pittsburgh fell victim to a quick Washington attack in the second period and dropped a 5-2 decision to the Capitals. The game was also highlighted by a scrum between Crosby and Washington's Alex Ovechkin that saw the two separated by officials.
The Pittsburgh captain notched an assist to give him two goals and five helpers over his last four games, but he was forced to leave practice on Tuesday due to a groin issue originally sustained in the game against Washington.
Crosby is second in the NHL with 79 points off 23 goals and 56 assists, trailing teammate Evgeni Malkin and his 87 points.
Maxime Talbot and Sergei Gonchar each scored versus Washington for Pittsburgh, which is just 1-4-2 in its last seven road games and has also lost three of its last five overall. Marc-Andre Fleury yielded five goals on 20 shots and was replaced by Mathieu Garon, who turned aside all 14 shots he faced for the remainder of the contest.
While it has struggled as of late on the road, Pittsburgh has won five of its last six as the host and is 16-12-2 at Mellon Arena this year. The Pens, however, play their next five on the road following tonight's test.
The Islanders hit the road tonight having lost five straight and 19 of their last 20 as the guest. They are just 6-22-2 as the road team this year and begin a six-game homestand on Thursday.
New York picked up a big home win on Saturday, shutting out the New Jersey Devils by a 4-0 count. Yann Danis made a career-high 40 saves for his second career shutout and first since his NHL debut with Montreal on October 12, 2005.
Sean Bergenheim, Jon Sim, Kyle Okposo and Bill Guerin each had a goal for the Islanders, who won for just the second time in their last nine games (2-6-1). Mark Streit and Frans Nielsen both collected two assists.
Pittsburgh had won four straight over New York, including the first three meetings this year, prior to the Islanders' 3-2 shootout win at home on February 16. The Penguins have still won six of the last eight overall in the series and six of the last seven as the host.
02/25 13:45:46 ET