After a week without a game, the New York Islanders are back on the ice tonight at the Nassau Coliseum to host the Pittsburgh Penguins. It will be the first meeting of the year between the divisional rivals and the Isles’ first game since Jan. 31.
The Islanders hit the ice in a precarious spot, sitting in the East Division basement after dropping their last five consecutive games. They had been scheduled to play Buffalo twice this past week, but due to COVID-19 both of those games were rescheduled.
Tonight the Islanders lineup could look similar to what was seen during their last two games in Philadelphia. Head coach Barry Trotz said this morning that everyone except Anthony Beauvillier was available to play tonight.
Beauvillier is still rehabbing from a lower-body injury.
In a rare move, Trotz also announced that Semyon Varlamov will start in net. Trotz very rarely reveals decisions he makes about the Islanders lineup ahead of the game.
The Islanders had two of their better outings in their last two games before the break. The team is hoping they benefited from the unscheduled pause.
🎥 Barry Trotz Pregame Availability 🎥 pic.twitter.com/Tz2mygj4Hg
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 6, 2021
“I think we got some energy back,” Trotz said. “After the week we had you sort of feel down a little bit. You feel disappointed from it probably. Got away from it a little bit. Hopefully, we’re ready to compete. It seems like we haven’t played forever, which is strange especially this year.”
Pittsburgh had a similar layoff as the Islanders did this week after their Tuesday game with New Jersey was canceled due to COVID-19. Tonight will be their first game since a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Monday.
“You can look at it either way,” Jordan Eberle said when asked if the advantage of the break was there or not. “You could look at it rust wise. You could look at it energy-wise. You could find a storyline either way, but at the end of the day it’s just the team that wants it more, competes harder is going to win tonight.”
Tristan Jarry will get the start for Pittsburgh, head coach Mike Sullivan announced this morning. They will also have John Marino, Mike Matheson and Kris Letang available to them for tonight.
Pre-game media availability with Coach Sullivan ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/IHe8tD3ERz
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 6, 2021
Matheson was activated off of the IR this morning and Marino returned to practice on Friday after being placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list. Pittsburgh also recalled Drew O’Connor from the taxi squad.
Among Pittsburgh’s many talented players, the Islanders lineup will have to contend with Sidney Crosby, who has made it somewhat of a habit to have big games against them. In 67 games against the Islanders, Crosby has 113 points (36 goals, 67 assists).
“The biggest thing with Sid to me is you always have to control where he is,” Trotz said. “Keep him to the outside. He’s going to make plays through you. He’s always going to damage you. You just have to manage the damage.”
New York Islanders Lineup (Projected)
Anders Lee — Mathew Barzal — Jordan Eberle
Josh Bailey — Brock Nelson — Michael Dal Colle
Kieffer Bellows — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Oliver Wahlstrom
Matt Martin — Casey Cizikas — Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock
Nick Leddy — Scott Mayfield
Andy Greene — Noah Dobson
Tonight’s game is the first of six meetings between the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the month of February. … Semyon Varlamov will appear in his 500th NHL game when he starts in net tonight for the Islanders. That will make him the 76th goaltender in NHL history and at 16th active goaltender to appear in 500 games. … Evgeni Malkin has 78 points (30 goals, 40 assists) in 64 career games against the Islanders. … Tristan Jarry is 3-0-0 and holds a 1.62 goals-against average in three career starts against the Islanders. … Tonight will be Pittsburgh’s first trip to Nassau Coliseum since Dec. 10, 2018. The Penguins won that game 2-1 in the shootout.
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.