The NY Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins are set to do battle for the final time this regular season with so much on the line.
The Islanders are currently in the midst of their biggest stretch of the 2022-23 season. Arguably, the biggest of the four games happened on Tuesday night at UBS Arena when the Buffalo Sabres came to town. After a scoreless first period, the Sabres broke the ice early in the second thanks to Dylan Cozens' 24th goal of the year. The Isles would answer later in period two with a Casey Cizikas goal, followed by a Josh Bailey goal early in the third to give New York its first lead. That lead, however, wouldn't last for long as former Islander, Kyle Okposo, got the game even once again. After both goaltenders made big saves to keep the game tied at two, Hudson Fasching finally broke through with his 4th goal to put the Isles ahead for good. Ilya Sorokin made 22 saves to preserve the 3-2 victory.
The Penguins had a golden opportunity on Tuesday night to pick up two big points against the Eastern Conference's worst team. While things did not look good early for the Pens, they put together one of the best comebacks of the season. Trailing 4-1 entering the third period, Pittsburgh got goals from Jake Guentzel, Jason Zucker, and Danton Heinen, all in the first four minutes of the period, to get the game even at four. After no one could break the tie in regulation, the game would go to overtime and it was the captain who came through. Sidney Crosby's 28th goal of the year capped off the comeback and gave the Pens the 5-4 win.
The Islanders have faced off with the Penguins three times already this season and it's New York who has been getting the best of their opponent each time. The December 27th and February 27th victories both occured at UBS Arena, while the most recent meeting on February 20th, a 4-2 Isles win, came at PPG Paints Arena, the same sight as this season series finale.
All-time, the Isles are 117-110-22-20 against the Penguins.
Players to Watch
Casey Cizikas and Fasching each had two points in the win Tuesday against Buffalo. They also each registered a point in the win on Saturday against Detroit. Lane Lambert has put the two together on a line and they, along with Matt Martin, have looked really good together. With all the injuries that the Isles are still dealing with, it is going to be crucial that this line continues to step up in big spots.
In Tuesday night's comeback win against Columbus, Zucker notched goals 20 and 21 on the year and has now scored six goals in his last five games. He has also buried a goal in each of the last two meetings with the Islanders. With the Isles giving most of their defensive attention to guys like Crosby, Malkin, Guenztel, etc., look for Zucker to get a number of good scoring opportunities in this one.
Anders Lee-Bo Horvat-Pierre Engvall
Zach Parise-Brock Nelson-Kyle Palmieri
Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Hudson Fasching
Simon Holmstrom-Otto Koivula-Josh Bailey
Adam Pelech-Scott Mayfield
Alexander Romanov-Ryan Pulock
Sebastian Aho-Noah Dobson
Jake Guenztel-Sidney Crosby-Rickard Rakell
Jason Zucker-Evgeni Malkin-Danton Heinen
Drew O'Connor-Jeff Carter-Alex Nylander
Pierre-Oliver Joseph-Nick Bonino-Josh Archibald
Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson-Jeff Petry
Dmitry Kulikov-Jan Rutta
Lineups via DailyFaceoff