Pittsburgh, trying to get back into playoff position, can’t afford to have Sidney Crosby miss a lot of time. Even a matchup with the New York Islanders couldn’t entice the Penguins star to play through his groin pain.
With Crosby sidelined, the Penguins look to continue their success against the Islanders at Mellon Arena on Wednesday night.
Crosby was injured Sunday in a 5-2 loss to Washington and said Wednesday, “It just hasn’t improved a whole lot.”
The Penguins (29-26-6) are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference after reaching the Stanley Cup finals last season, and need Crosby—listed as day to day—on the ice if they hope to reach the playoffs for the third straight year. Crosby is tied for second in the NHL in scoring with 79 points (23 goals, 56 assists), eight behind teammate Evgeni Malkin.
He’s been particularly good at home against the Islanders (18-35-6), posting six goals and 16 assists in 12 games. Pittsburgh has gone 8-2-2 in those contests, and its last meeting with New York at Mellon Arena was its best effort during that stretch.
The Penguins got three assists from Crosby in a 9-2 win over the Islanders on Dec. 11. It was Pittsburgh’s first nine-goal game since beating Philadelphia 9-4 on Feb. 7, 2001.
Petr Sykora and Pascal Dupuis both had a hat trick for the Penguins, who are 3-0-1 against the Islanders this season. Sykora ended the longest streak in NHL history without a hat trick by a player who had at least two goals in a game.
Previously, Sykora had 38 games with two goals without getting a third. He added an assist in his big game against the Islanders, but has been held off the scoresheet in his three other matchups with them this season.
Sykora, third on the team with 22 goals, was held without a point Sunday. Crosby had an assist as the Penguins fell to 2-1-1 under interim coach Dan Bylsma, who was promoted after Michel Therrien was fired Feb. 15.
New York has stuck with Scott Gordon even though it has the league’s worst record. The Islanders have lost five straight on the road, scoring six goals in that span.
But New York is coming off an impressive win, beating New Jersey 4-0 on Saturday night after losing its previous two.
The Islanders gave up 23 goals in their previous six games, going 1-4-1.
Yann Danis made a career-high 40 saves for his first shutout since his first career start, a matchup with Atlanta on Oct. 12, 2005, when he was with Montreal.
It was the Islanders’ first shutout of the season and their first in 79 games. Rick DiPietro, out for the season with a knee injury, had New York’s last shutout, 1-0 against Tampa Bay on Feb. 21, 2008.