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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Thursday, December 11th (All times eastern)

New York Islanders (10-16-2) at Pittsburgh Penguins (15-9-4), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The New York Islanders will try to avoid a fifth consecutive loss when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for an Atlantic Division matchup at Mellon Arena.

The Islanders have opened the month of December with four losses in a row and have dropped six of their last seven games overall. The club is also currently last in the division with just 22 points on the season.

New York's most recent setback came Tuesday evening against the Philadelphia Flyers, another Atlantic Division rival. Simon Gagne's power-play goal late in the third period lifted Philadelphia over the visiting Isles, 4-3, at the Wachovia Center.

Martin Biron also stopped 24 shots for Philly and recorded his ninth straight win over the Islanders.

Andy Hilbert, Doug Weight and Blake Comeau scored for the Islanders, who wasted a two-goal lead in the setback.

Yann Danis took the loss after allowing all four goals on 25 shots. Danis got the nod after Joey McDonald started the previous 17 games. McDonald, who is 10-12-2 on the season, is expected to be back between the pipes tonight.

Tonight marks the third stop on a four-game road trip for the Islanders, who have identical 5-8-1 records at home and on the road this season. New York will complete the swing Saturday in Columbus.

Pittsburgh has also stumbled recently, losing three straight and four of five games to begin December. The Penguins now find themselves tied with Philadelphia for second place in the Atlantic Division. Pittsburgh and the Flyers each have 34 points and trail the New York Rangers by six points for the division lead. New Jersey is fourth with 32 points.

The Pens latest setback came Wednesday night in New Jersey, as they were handed a 4-1 defeat by the rival Devils. Scott Clemmensen made 26 saves to lead Jersey to the win at Prudential Center.

Matt Cooke had the lone tally, while Dany Sabourin allowed three goals on 31 shots for the Penguins.

Sidney Crosby was kept off the scoresheet to have his point streak halted at seven games. Evgeni Malkin, the NHL's leading scorer with 46 points, had an assist and now has one goal and six helpers over a four-game point streak. Crosby is second to Malkin on the Penguins and in the NHL with 41 points on the year.

The Penguins are 7-4-2 as the host this year, but have lost three of their last four at the Igloo. Pittsburgh will hit the road for its next game, as it visits Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon.

Pittsburgh is 2-0 against the Islanders this season and has won three in a row, five of six and seven of the last nine encounters between the clubs. New York has also been defeated in two straight, five of six and eight of its previous 10 trips to the Steel City.

12/11 10:54:51 ET

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