Islanders-Penguins Preview

The Associated Press

The Pittsburgh Penguins needed six games to eliminate the New York Islanders from the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last season.

A fifth straight regular-season victory over the visiting Islanders on Friday night will keep the Penguins from losing consecutive games for the first time this season.

After taking four of five from New York during the regular season, top-seeded Pittsburgh (7-2-0) had a tougher time sending the Islanders (3-3-3) home from their first playoff appearance in six seasons. The teams split the first four games before the Penguins took control in the final two contests.

Sidney Crosby had three goals and 15 assists against New York last season, including playoffs. He'll try to continue that success after none of his season-high seven shots went in during a 1-0 home loss to Colorado on Monday.

The result snapped a four-game winning streak for the Penguins, who had scored at least three goals in all eight contests. Pittsburgh went 0 for 7 on the power play and was stymied by veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere despite recording 34 shots.

"We did a lot of good things and probably deserved better," said Crosby, who leads the team with seven goals and 10 assists.

"That's how the game works sometimes. Sometimes you don't deserve them and you find a way to win and (Monday) we deserved better and didn't find a way to win."

Marc-Andre Fleury faced only 14 shots but allowed Gabriel Landeskog's goal early in the second period to fall to 7-1-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average.

With the Penguins taking on New York and Toronto on back-to-back nights, Fleury seems likely to get one of those games off. He was benched prior to Game 5 of the playoff series with the Islanders after yielding 14 goals in Games 2-4.

The Islanders also have games on back-to-back nights this weekend, and backup Kevin Poulin is likely to make his second start of the season in at least one of them. Evgeni Nabokov gave up nine goals in the team's two straight losses to Carolina and Vancouver.

"I'm not going to discuss the goaltending," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "Poulin is going to get his chance shortly. If he plays well, he's going to play more."

New York blew an early 2-0 lead and another one-goal advantage en route to a 5-4 overtime loss to the Canucks on Tuesday. Frans Nielsen had a goal and two assists and Matt Moulson scored twice as the Islanders tallied at least three goals for the fourth straight contest.

With two power-play goals, New York is 6 for 17 during a 1-1-2 stretch.

"As long as (the power play is) going well, we've got to take advantage of it," Nielsen told the Islanders' official website. "We have to win more games when the power play is going like it is."

New York went 0 for 16 with the man advantage while being outscored 16-5 in the last four regular-season meetings with Pittsburgh.

Nielsen has five goals and six assists to tie John Tavares for the team lead in points. He recorded only two assists against the Penguins in the playoffs.

Tavares has an eight-game point streak, but he's been held to a goal and an assist in his last 12 regular-season matchups with Pittsburgh.