Pittsburgh Penguins Gameday 10: New York Islanders

New York Islanders (3-3-3) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (7-2-0)
Root Sports, MSG Plus, RDS2 – 7:00 pm/et 
Consol Energy Center – Pittsburgh, PA

The Pens hit the ten game mark in a battle against the team that gave them everything they could handle in last year's playoffs. Jeff Zatkoff gets his second start of the season tonight. Also, Kris Letang is back!


Leading Scorers:

Penguins: Sidney Crosby (7G, 10A: 17P)
Islanders: Frans Nielsen (5G, 6A: 11P)

Starting Goaltenders:

Penguins: Jeff Zatkoff (0-1-0, 6.00 GAA, .800 Sv% )
Islanders: Evgeni Nabokov (3-2-3, 2.79 GAA, .905 Sv%)

Last Games:

Penguins: Lost to Colorado Avalanche 1-0.
Islanders: Lost to Vancouver Canucks 5-4 [OT].

Previews from Team Websites:  [Penguins] [Islanders

Line Combinations and Notes: [The Isles Come to Pittsburgh]

Opposition Blog: [Lighthouse Hockey]
What They're Saying: "No Marc-Andre Fleury to kick around"

Though Fleury has rebounded from a miserable, job-shaking 2013 playoffs to post a .930 save percentage in 483 minutes of 2013-14, he will sit tonight — part of a back-to-back and three games in four nights for the Penguins — in favor of backup Jeff Zatkoff.

Zatkoff only has one, unimpressive game thus far this year, and he wouldn't be with the big club if not for Tomas Vokoun's blood clot condition. Though teams sometimes respond to backups in kind, the Islanders will start Evgeni Nabokov tonight, presumably saving backup Kevin Poulin for Pennsylvania's far weaker offense tomorrow night against the Flyers.

If I understand fan angst narratives correctly, the Islanders will let Zatkoff shut them out because "we always lose to backups/let slumping NHLers score/hit poorly against rookie pitchers/let backup quarterbacks shine," etc.

Or they can treat Zatkoff as the Panthers did, torching him for six goals on 30 shots on Oct. 11.

What Happened Last Time: May 11, 2013 – Pens won 4-3 [OT] [Our Recap]

The Pens were severely outplayed in this game, yet still found a way to win it. That's what the good teams do. Tomas Vokoun endured throughout and kept the Pens in the hunt long enough for another goal to get past Nabokov. That's what the big-time goalies do. And wow: the Pens got some pretty big goals from their defensemen in this one. Not to mention the Pens' PK killing off three penalties in the second period. Some heroic efforts in this one.

Penguins Player(s) to Watch: Jeff Zatkoff. This is a big game for him. How will he do?

Islanders Player(s) to Watch: Travis Hamonic. Hate that guy.

Gif that Seems Appropriate for Today's Game: 


Pittsburgh Penguins Gameday 10 – New York Islanders

Pittsburgh Penguins (6-3-0) @ New York Islanders (4-3-1)

ROOT, MSG PLUS, 7:00 pm/et

Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum – Uniondale, New York

It's easy to overlook the Islanders. We do it all the time. However, it's a bit of a bigger problem when the Penguins do it.

The last time the Penguins played the Islanders, the Pens hockey ability was even worse quality than this video:

Will today be any different?

Season Series: 0-1-0

Last meeting that counted: January 29, 2013. Penguins lost 4-1.

What we said in our recap:

The usual mantra about not getting too low or too high still rings true. That doesn't make what happened last night any easier. It was embarrassing, and it has nothing to do with how people want to perceive the opponent's skill level. There was booing. There were obscenities.

Here is what we know: there is something off about the Pens. Offensively, they look lost. 2 goals in the last 2 games. With a defense as questionable as this one is, the offense has to take some of the load off the blue line, and it just isn't happening.

Know Your Enemy: Lighthouse Hockey

What they're saying:

The New York Islanders fumbled their latest shot at the New Jersey Devils, and the Pittsburgh Penguins knocked theirs out of the park, so tonight we have the Penguins at the Coliseum with a chance to take over the Eastern Conference lead, while the Islanders can either take back a share of second place in the Atlantic with a win, or fall back to NHL quasi-.500 with a loss.

It's been an uneven start to this season for the Pens, with disappointing losses to Toronto, Winnipeg and the Islanders. But they've also beaten the Rangers by three (twice) and are coming off big-margin victories over the Devils and Washington Capitals on back-to-back weekend games.

Tonight the Penguins are looking to avenge a thorough home defeat to the Isles in front of the largest crowd in their new building's history. Coach Dan Bylsma said the Islanders "mopped" up the Pens last time, and to a man they feel that game exposed some things that needed addressing.

Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:

Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis
Boychuk – Malkin – Neal
Cooke – Sutter – Kennedy
Glass- Vitale – Adams

Despres – Letang
Orpik – Martin
Engelland  – Bortuzzo


New York Islanders Lines:

Moulson – Tavares – Boyes
Grabner – Nielsen – Okposo
Ullstrom – Aucoin – ?
Martin – Reasoner – Cizikas

Strait – Streit
MacDonald – Hamonic
Finley – Carkner

Lines via Daily Faceoff.

Do It.

Go Pens.