It was so much fun that the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins will do it again.
The Islander and Pittsburgh will square off for the second time in five days on Long Island tonight at Nassau Coliseum. The two East Division foes enter the game in different positions than they had come into their previous matchup last Saturday.
The Islanders have won two straight games, including that previous matchup with Pittsburgh, while the visitors from the Key Stone State have dropped their last two. The Isles are a point in front of Pittsburgh in the East Division.
A win tonight would be the Islanders’ third straight and would go a long way for their confidence.
“We went through a stretch there,” Mathew Barzal said in reference to the Islanders’ five-game losing streak they recently snapped. “It’s just nice to be back in the win column and string together a little point streak here. Anytime you can get that going you feel good. It’s fun being at the rink again, so it’s always fun to win. Everyone is in a better mood.”
🎥 Mat Barzal Pregame Media Availability 🎥 pic.twitter.com/fmNGSwC06f
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 11, 2021
How the Islanders lineup will look tonight remains up in the air. Head coach Barry Trotz wouldn’t say much other than that Semyon Varlamov will start in goal. The Islanders have used the same lineup in back-to-back games, with Jean Gabriel Pageau being joined by Leo Komarov and Oliver Wahlstrom on the third line.
The Islanders were also given a huge boost by their fourth line, which score twice in the win over the New York Rangers on Monday and had the tying goal on Saturday in the first meeting with Pittsburgh.
“Any time we have scoring up and down our lineup, it gives us a great chance in any game,” Anders Lee said. “The way that these guys have stepped up the last few, scored some huge goals for us. Not only won the game against the Rangers, but put us in a position to take the last Pittsburgh game. It’s always great when we get their help.”
Pittsburgh’s lineup will have at least one change for tonight’s game. They will start Casey DeSmith in net instead of Tristian Jarry, who was in net on Saturday against the Islanders.
Mike Sullivan told Pittsburgh media that the rest of his lineup was a game-time decision. Pittsburgh winger Zach Aston-Reese was activated off of IR on Thursday.
what won’t be a surprise to the Islanders will be the need to contain Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin tonight. Malkin had a goal in Saturday’s game Crosby had a point that night as well.
Crosby has 114 career points against the Islanders and Malkin has 79.
Here's what Coach Sullivan had to say ahead of tonight's game ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/7w3tAuWyu2
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 11, 2021
“We just have to try and stay on the right side of them,” Trotz said. “When they get above you and you’re reaching from behind they’re going to make you pay. You have to make them go through you. You have to frustrate them with time and space. They’re still going to make plays. … We just try and make it as difficult as we can.”
Tonight’s matchup will coincidentally take place on the 10 year anniversary of the brawl filled battle between the Islanders and Pittsburgh on Feb. 11, 2011.
New York Islanders Lineup (Projected)
Anders Lee — Mathew Barzal — Josh Bailey
Michael Dal Colle — Brock Nelson — Jordan Eberle
Leo Komarov — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Oliver Wahlstrom
Matt Martin — Casey Cizikas — Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock
Nick Leddy — Scott Mayfield
Andy Greene — Noah Dobson
Pittsburgh Penguins Lineup (Projected)
Jake Guentzel — Sidney Crosby — Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker — Evgeni Malkin — Kasperi Kapanen
Zach Aston-Reese — Teddy Blueger — Brandon Tanev
Drew O’Connor — Mark Jankowski — Colton Sceviour
Pierre-Olivier Joseph — Kris Letang
Mike Matheson — John Marino
Chad Ruhwedel — Cody Ceci
The Islanders are 3-0-0 at home this season. A win tonight would mark the first time since the 1984-85 season that they won their first four home games of the year. … The Islanders are 4-0-2 in theri last six meetings with Pittsburgh. … Brock Nelson is one point shy of reaching 300 points. Only 21 other Islanders, including Anders Lee, have reached that milestone. … Pittsburgh named Ron Hextall general manager on Tuesday and Brian Burke was appointed as president of hockey operations … Bryan Rust enters tonight’s game with eight points (two goals, six assists) through Pittsburgh’s first 11 games of the season. … P.O Joseph scored his first career NHL goal on Saturday night against the Islanders.
How to Watch
Tonight’s game will air on MSG+ and stream on MSG Go or on NHL.TV outside of the New York market. On the radio dial, the game can be heard on 98.7 FM ESPN New York, 88.7 FM WRHU and 103.9 FM LI News Radio.