Game Preview: NY Islanders @ Pittsburgh Penguins, 2/20/24

Coming off the (latest) worst loss of the season, the Islanders are again in dire need of two points against a division rival.

After three more minor penalties that destroyed the Islanders on Sunday, perhaps Scott Mayfield should take a more permanent seat tonight.
After three more minor penalties that destroyed the Islanders on Sunday, perhaps Scott Mayfield should take a more permanent seat tonight. / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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On Sunday, the NY Islanders stunningly lost in overtime to their crosstown rival NY Rangers during the Stadium Series at MetLife Stadium. Yet again, the Isles could not finish off a game in which they had leads of 4-1 and 5-3. Yet again, the Isles took too many penalties, and could not kill off those penalties. And yet again, the Isles left a point on the table when they desperately need to be accruing points.

After this latest horrific loss, the Islanders find themselves six points out of the second wild card playoff spot (albeit with a game in hand on the Detroit Red Wings, who currently occupy that WC2 spot). With 28 games left in the season, there is not a lot of room for error.

Tonight, the Isles (22-18-14) visit the division-rival Pittsburgh Penguins (24-21-7), who are three points behind the Isles (with two games in hand). Accordingly, this is as close to a "must-win" game as it gets this early in the season for both teams.

Puck drop tonight is at 7:00 PM ET.

LAST GAME

As covered above, the Isles lost a soul-crushing Stadium Series game to the Rangers on Sunday. For more on that game, click here.

Artemi Panarin
Just a brutal ending to the 2024 Stadium Series for the NY Islanders. / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

HISTORICAL MATCH-UP

Historically, the Islanders are 139-139-22-7 against the Penguins. While the Islanders swept the season series against the Penguins last season, this season has been a different story, with two losses to Pittsburgh in December. The Islanders and Penguins have a colorful history that includes the wild brawl night in 2011, Josh Bailey's overtime heroics, and David Volek's miracle goal.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

NYI- Scott Mayfield. Scott Mayfield's brutal season continued Sunday, with three minor penalties which directly impacted the final result. Mayfield has become even slower as he's gotten older, which further prevents him from keeping up with opposing players. Accordingly, Mayfield has had to clutch, grab, and hold players in an attempt to prevent a scoring chance. After Sunday, it might behoove the Islanders to sit Mayfield for somebody more mobile like Sebastian Aho or Samuel Bolduc, but it could be a hard sell publicly with Mayfield in the first year of a seven-year contract.

PIT- Matthew Phillips. The Penguins claimed Phillips off of waivers this weekend due to injuries they have faced in recent days and weeks. Jake Guentzel, who was looking more and more like the top trade deadline trade possibility before his injury, has vacated his role in the top-six, and Phillips is being given the first shot to fill-in. Phillips had only 5 points in 27 games for the Washington Capitals this season, but has been a top scorer in the AHL in recent seasons.

EXPECTED LINEUPS

PIT

Rickard Rackell- Sidney Crosby- Bryan Rust

Drew O'Connor- Evgeni Malkin- Matthew Phillips

Reilly Smith- Lars Eller- Valtteri Puustinen

Jansen Harkins- Jeff Carter- Colin White

Pierre-Olivier Joseph- Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson- Erik Karlsson

Ryan Graves- Chad Ruhwedel

Alex Nedeljkovic

Tristan Jarry

NYI

Anders Lee- Bo Horvat- Mathew Barzal

Pierre Engvall- Brock Nelson- Kyle Palmieri

Simon Holmstrom- JG Pageau- Oliver Wahlstrom

Matt Martin- Casey Cizikas- Cal Clutterbuck

Alexander Romanov- Noah Dobson

Adam Pelech- Ryan Pulock

Mike Reilly- Scott Mayfield

Ilya Sorokin

Semyon Varlamov

Expected line combinations courtesy of Daily Faceoff.