The New York Islanders have successfully navigated the waters within the parameters of the Metropolitan Division far better than they have outside of it this season. Boasting a 10-2-0 mark in the division, the Islanders bid for their third win in as many meetings with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday when the clubs reconvene at PPG Paints Arena.
New York swept a home-and-home set versus Pittsburgh on Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 to improve to 5-1-3 in its last nine games in the season series. Captain Anders Lee scored in the Islanders' 3-2 shootout victory versus the Penguins on Nov. 1 and has netted the team's first goal in three consecutive contests, including Tuesday's 3-1 setback versus Winnipeg. Pittsburgh's Patric Hornqvist matched a personal best with a four-point performance on Tuesday as he scored three times in 2:47 for the fastest hat trick in franchise history in a 6-3 win over Colorado. The 31-year-old Swede has 13 points in his last nine games, although he was held off the scoresheet in both encounters with the Islanders this season.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG-Plus (New York), Sportsnet1, Sportsnet East, AT&T SportsNet-Pittsburgh
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (13-10-3): Lee's scoring notwithstanding, New York has been held to a single goal in three of its last five contests (2-2-1). "One goal doesn't do it in this league," reigning Calder Trophy recipient Mathew Barzal said. "We've got to find a way to get on the board, whether that's the power play or 5-on-5." Barzal notched two of his team-leading 18 assists in the Islanders' 6-3 victory at Pittsburgh on Oct. 30.
ABOUT THE PENGUINS (11-10-5): Captain Sidney Crosby has tormented New York throughout his career, recording a staggering 110 points (35 goals, 75 assists) in 64 games for his highest total against any team. Crosby collected a goal and an assist in the first meeting while fellow former Hart Trophy recipient Evgeni Malkin scored in both encounters this season. Fellow forward Jake Guentzel, who set up one tally in two matches with the Islanders this season, scored his 50th career goal on Tuesday to extend his point streak to a career-high five games (four goals, three assists).
1. Pittsburgh RW Phil Kessel has 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in his last 12 games.
2. New York is 0-for-17 on the power play in the last eight contests.
3. Penguins G Casey DeSmith has yielded 12 goals in his last five games (4-1-0).