(SportsNetwork.com) – The New York Islanders are proving to be a tough team to
The hosting Isles look to make another statement on Saturday night as they go
for a sweep of a home-and-home series with the Metropolitan-leading Pittsburgh
New York has won two straight and seven of its last eight games, with last
night’s 5-4 shootout victory in Pittsburgh pulling the club to within two
points of first place in the division.
The teams combined for five goals in the first period and the Penguins got a
game-tying goal from Patrick Hornqvist with 7:00 left in the third period
before Kyle Okposo netted the winner in the tiebreaker.
After both Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Frans Nielsen of New York scored in
the second round, the Pens’ Brandon Sutter came up empty on his attempt and
Okposo ended things by a backhand-forehand move past Marc-Andre Fleury.
Ryan Strome had a goal and two assists, while Nick Leddy, Matt Martin and
Nikolay Kulemin also scored for the Isles. Chad Johnson ended with 26 saves as
the Islanders improved to 7-0-0 when leading after two periods.
“We were resilient,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. “We came back and
had some good chances. We stayed at it.”
New York did lose Calvin de Haan to injury in the third period after the
defenseman crashed into the boards.
New York snapped a four-game slide to Pittsburgh and has lost four in a row
and seven of the past eight in this series played on Long Island.
Jaroslav Halak figures to start tonight for the Isles and is 3-4-0 with a 2.27
goals against average and .919 save percentage in seven lifetime meetings.
Nick Spaling, Blake Comeau and Sutter lit the lamp for Pittsburgh in defeat,
while Hornqvist added an assist and Evgeni Malkin supplied two helpers. Still,
the Pens lost for only the second time in 12 games.
“We just didn’t play a full 60 minutes,” Crosby said. “We didn’t really
deserve to win the game.”
Fleury made 31 saves in defeat and was denied his 300th career win.
He’ll have to wait a little longer for another chance at the milestone victory
as Thomas Greiss is expected to start tonight. It will be the fourth start of
the season for the backup and Greiss is 1-0-0 with a 1.98 GAA and .935 save
percentage in three prior meetings with the Isles, including one start.