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Islanders and Penguins Rivalry is Must-See TV

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 07: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders skates against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Barclays Center on November 07, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Penguins defeated the Islanders 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 07: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders skates against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Barclays Center on November 07, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Penguins defeated the Islanders 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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The New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins is must-watch television. Since the four-game sweep in the playoffs last year, this matchup has become a grudge match, and I for one, love it.

The Islanders and Penguins have played two games so far this year. Both games have ended in the road team coming back to tie in the third period and winning in overtime. I’d argue that if you don’t love this, you don’t love hockey.

Evgeni Malkin, in particular, looks like he is playing with a chip on his shoulder. Mind you, in Tuesday night’s Islanders win, the Pens were playing without Crosby, making Malkin the de facto leader, but there was no question that Malkin and crew were playing to win.

For a team whose GAA is 2.37, four goals seems like a lot. And although the Islanders offense is not so anemic as it was last year, 3.2 goals per game to last years 2.7, it still seems to be asking a lot of an Islanders team not known for its scoring prowess to come back from not one but two 2 goal deficits.

The Isles and the Pens are Must Watch Television

But this team seems to find a way every day, and a dramatic way at that. Over the course of the past 15 games the general tone of the games has felt akin to the comeback win in Winnipeg last March. The Islanders have been resilient and selfless.

Every night it is a new hero.

Tuesday it was the red hot Anthony Beauvillier, especially with his smooth steal in overtime, and Brock Nelson, but Thursday night it could be anyone. That’s just the dynamic of this team. It’s dramatic. It’s entertaining.

The only team over the past month who has given the Islanders trouble is the Penguins and that certainly seems to be the product of a grudge. The playoff series from the spring clearly did not sit well with the team. You can see it in the crispness of their penalty kill.

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And so, I can’t wait to watch the Penguins come to town tonight. Who will make it happen tonight? Can the Islanders break their record for points in consecutive games? Matching the dynasty team in any way is amazing, but surpassing them in a stat would be really something.

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