The New York Islanders have dominated the Boston Bruins this season, but they have been haunted by the Pittsburgh Penguins. They will try to curb that trend tonight when they host Pittsburgh at the Nassau Coliseum.
Tonight will be Pittsburgh’s third trip to Long Island this month and the fifth game between the two division rivals. Pittsburgh got the better of the Islanders in their last three games, which included last Saturday when they fell 3-2 in Sidney Crosby’s 1,000th NHL game.
The Islanders are coming off a pair of wins, which included Thursday’s throttling of Boston on Coliseum ice. The Islanders scored seven goals, five of which came in the third period, and handed Boston one of their ugliest losses of the season.
Now they will try to find that magic against a Pittsburgh team that had limited the Islanders to three goals combined when they played last week.
“Looking back at both of those games, we had a couple of lapses at times, but all in all we played some pretty good hockey,” Josh Bailey said. “We just didn’t get the results. They’re a team we’re obviously very familiar with and had some tight games with them all year. Just be the same thing coming up this weekend and hopefully we find a way to get a better result.”
Tonight’s matchup may take place without Cal Clutterbuck in the lineup. He was injured during Thursday’s win over Boston and did not take part in on-ice workouts on Friday. Islanders head coach Barry Trotz told reporters after an optional morning skate that Clutterbuck was a game-time decision.
Clutterbuck is an important piece of the Islanders fourth line, which has rediscovered itself during the Islanders’ recent stretch this month.
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— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 27, 2021
“He’s a player that plays in a lot of situations for us,” Matt Martin said. “He’s one of our top penalty killers. When we’re rolling we’re often out there against teams’ top lines. We miss him obviously when he is not in, but I think it was Leo that ended up playing with us for a while last year. He plays a similar game as well, so it’s kind of a next man up mentality.”
Komarov’s appearance in the lineup has not always been received well by some fans, but the veteran has played well in recent appearances for the Islanders. Komarov has played in 10 games this year and played on the fourth line last season when Clutterbuck had been injured.
Trotz noted the intangible things that Komarov brings to the lineup that make him valuable to the team.
“He is one of those guys in the locker room that is an intangible,” Trotz said. “He always has a smile on his face. He’s a true pro. The effect he has on the group. Leo is a great fix sometimes because he forces you to get your nose dirty.”
The Islanders bench boss indicated that Michael Dal Colle could also be back in the lineup against Pittsburgh tonight. No starting goaltender was revealed, but Trotz did say it was likely that Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov would split this weekend’s slate of games.
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— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 27, 2021
Part of what goes into who starts when does have to deal with the team’s matchup, Trotz said. He pointed to how Boston scheduled their starters recently as an example of what goes into making goaltending decisions.
“They had a long trip back, they had been riding (Tuukka) Rask a lot and we had beaten Rask twice,” Trotz said. “Coming back with (Jaroslav) Halak that first part of that game, I probably would have done the same thing. There is a little bit of science based on the situation and sometimes just feel. I know maybe some much this year as in the past where you might have a division game versus a non-conference game and you may not play a starter on the front end of a back-to-back because of that.”
Tristan Jarry will start in net for Pittsburgh and Jared McCann is a game-time decision.
New York Islanders Lineup (Projected)
Anders Lee — Mathew Barzal — Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier — Brock Nelson — Josh Bailey
Michael Dal Colle — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Oliver Wahlstrom
Matt Martin — Casey Cizikas — Leo Komarov
Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock
Nick Leddy — Scott Mayfield
Andy Greene — Noah Dobson
The Islanders have picked up points at each of their first seven home games. The 13 points are the most in the first seven games since 1982-83. … The Islanders can match their best eight-game start at home with a win tonight against Pittsburgh. … The Islanders have allowed just ten third-period goals and are +12 in the third period. … Pittsburgh has picked up points in nine of their last 10 games against the Islanders and are 9-3-3 in their last 15 against the Isles. … Tonight is the start of Pittsburgh’s first set of back-to-back games this season. They have nine sets of back-to-back’s this season. … Sidney Crosby (one goal, four assists), Evgeni Malkin (two goals, 3 assists) and Bryan Rust (two goals, three assists) are tied with Philadelphia’s James van Riemsdyk (five assists) for most points in the NHL against the New York Islanders this season.
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 1050 AM ESPN, 88.7 FM WRHU and 103.9 FM LI News Radio.
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