Metropolitan Division playoff spot contenders battle as the Pens face the Isles.
The Pens head into their second consecutive weekend back-to-back series against the Islanders on Friday and are facing some significant pressure. It's their fourth straight road game. They're playing two days in a row. But most of all they continue to face the need to the necessity to distance themselves from teams trying to knock them out of the second Eastern Conference wildcard playoff position they currently hold.
One of those contenders is their opponent tonight, the New York Islanders. The Penguins are coming into this game having lost to the Isles on this same Long Island ice in December by a pathetic score of 5-1. It was one of their worst games, if not the worst, of the entire season. New York's Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee each dropped two goals on the Penguins that night. Four Islanders ended up having multi-point games in all (Mat Barzal, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, and Brock Nelson). New York steamrolled the Pens.
With the tight playoff race and the Islanders being a divisional opponent facing them heads-up is a crucial point in the season. This is a major game for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They have a chance to take two points and a game directly away from New York in the standings. To do it they'll have to rely on backup goalie Casey DeSmith as their starter. Tristan Jarry is still rehabbing from his lower-body injury.
Pens Game #54: Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders
Date: February 17, 2023
Time: 7 PM (ET)
Place: Elmont, NY
Venue: UBS Arena
Penguins Broadcast: AT&T Sportsnet
Islanders Broadcast: MSG Sportsnet
Canadian Broadcast: Sportsnet One, TVAS
Online Stream: ESPN+
Penguins Radio: 105.9 The X/Penguins Radio Network
Islanders Radio: Islanders Radio Network
Records- PIT: 27-17-9, NYI: 27-23-7
Last 10- PIT: 5-2-3, NYI: 4-4-2
Streaks- PIT: 1 Win, NYI: 3 Losses
Standings- PIT: 14th, NYI: 18th
Points- PIT: 63, NYI: 61
Season Series- 1-0 NYI
Series Goals For- PIT: 1, NYI: 5
Team Analytics Comparison:
Projected starting goalies:
-CASEY DESMITH- #1
Bio Info: 6' 0", 181 lbs. DOB: 8/13/1991 (31). From: Rochester, NH.
Drafted: Undrafted; Experience: 5th Season.
Record: 10-11-4, 3.21 GAA, .907 SV%
Career vs. NYI: 3-1-1, 2.39 GAA, .918 SV%
-ILYA SOROKIN- #30
[New York Islanders]
Bio Info: 6' 3", 190 lbs. DOB: 8/4/1995 (27). From: Mezhdurechensk, Russia.
Drafted: 2014- Rd 3, Pk 78 (NYI). Experience: 3rd Season.
Record: 17-17-5, 2.40 GAA, .923 SV%
Career vs. PIT: 3-3-0, 2.56 GAA, .908 SV%
Pens goalie Tristan Jarry missed the game prep practice on Thursday for a doctor's appointment. He's out against New York and his availability for tomorrow against New Jersey is still unknown.
On other injuries: Ryan Poehling is apparently injured again. There was no word on the nature of the ailment, when it was sustained, or if it's related to his prior issues but the Penguins have designated him as "day-to-day".
Jan Rutta (upper body) will not return for this divisional matchup up vs. the Isles as the Penguins needed to place another player on waivers yesterday to make room for his contract in order to allow him to rejoin the lineup.
Mark Friedman (undisclosed) is still being evaluated after being injured against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday but has been confirmed out for the Islanders game.
Swapping in players for those out, Drew O’Connor will return to the lineup in place of the injured Ryan Poehling. It's a major opportunity for O'Connor to capture a spot after he performed well in his last few games as a call-up: three points in his last five games. That includes a goal and two assists, a sound showing for his minimal ice time.
Without Jarry available, expect number three goalie Dustin Tokarski to take one of the back-to-back games this weekend after Casey DeSmith showed fatigue while playing consecutive games in California and was pulled for it.
-Mark Friedman (D): undisclosed, under evaluation.
-Tristan Jarry (G): upper body, day-to-day.
-Ryan Poehling (D): undisclosed, day-to-day.
-Jan Rutta (D): LTIR, upper body, day-to-day.
The projected Penguins lines for Friday, February 17, 2023, at the New York Islanders:
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Jason Zucker - Evgeni Malkin - Rickard Rakell
Brock McGinn - Jeff Carter - Kasperi Kapanen
Drew O’Connor - Teddy Blueger - Josh Archibald
Brian Dumoulin - Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson - Jeff Petry
P. O. Joseph - Chad Ruhwedel
PP1: Malkin, Crosby, Guentzel, Rakell, Letang
PP2: Carter, Rust, Zucker, Kapanen, Petry
PK1: Carter, Rust, Dumoulin, Petry
PK2: Blueger, McGinn, Ruhwedel, Pettersson
NYI is on a three-game losing skid, with two of those last three going past regulation. They’re having difficulties of late, ones the Pens can potentially capitalize on. The Isles will be trying to rebound strongly against their divisional and playoff positioning rivals so that task won’t be easy.
The newest New York Islander, former top trade candidate Bo Horvat, will make his debut in the Isles-Penguins rivalry in this matchup. Horvat wears #14 now since moving to the Island.
In the net, Isles' goalie Ilya Sorokin doesn't have the most outstanding record but he is an All-Star this season and concerningly has an impressive five shutouts on the year. He can blank a team without batting an eye. That's a worry for a Penguins team that's had trouble scoring already.
Special teams should factor into this one. The Pens' poor powerplay is likely to be even less effective in this game as New York has the fifth-best penalty kill at an 82.4% kill rate. On the plus side, we finally found a powerplay that's worse than the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders rank 27th and are converting at 17.2% in the league in that specialty. They trail the Penguins who are still somehow in 17th place (21.6%) from some hot streaks in between the total dysfunction on their powerplay.
-Cal Clutterbuck (F): IR, upper body, out for 2022-23.
-Jean-Gabriel Pageau (F): IR, upper body, out until 2/20.
-Oliver Wahlstrom (F): IR, leg, month-to-month.
For The Penguins: Jake Guentzel. Guentzel is admittedly only the choice because we momentarily retired Sidney Crosby from this space and Sid is still the most outstanding Penguin of late, so Jake it is by technicality. He's not doing poorly himself though. Guentzel had a two-goal game in San Jose on an overall strong night for him where he was a +3. He also has four points in his last five games.
For The Islanders: Mat Barzal. "Matty B" is buzzing for the Isles. Barzal has six points in the last five games including three assists. The 25-year-old is really maturing into his full playmaking capabilities as a centerman as proven by his 35 assists overall this season. Did we mention he's only just entering his prime? He's going to be a problem for the Penguins for many years to come.