PENGUINS (18-9-1, 37 PTS) @ ISLANDERS (8-15-4, 20 PTS)
— Tonight’s goaltending matchup features Marc Andre Fleury (14-7-1, 2.06 GAA, .918 sv%) vs Anders Nilsson (0-0-1, 2.47 GAA, .907 sv%). For all this talk of the Islanders needing a coaching change, the issues they have should fall on GM Garth Snow. It was a certainty the Islanders were going to have goaltending problems and New York failed to replace Mark Streit, though, the Islanders miss Lubomir Visnovsky badly and even Brian Strait who will miss his 19th straight game.
— The Islanders enter tonight in last place in the Metropolitan Division and things could snowball quickly with their next six opponents including Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose, and Phoenix.
— The Islanders are 0-5-1 in their last six games and went an NHL worst 4-10-1 in the month of November.
— The way the schedule sets up over the next month, the Penguins very well could have a 12 to 14 point lead in the division by the New Year, if the Penguins beat most of the teams they should.
— Thomas Vanek who’s likely to be on the move again by the deadline, has 4 goals in 11 games with the Islanders. Vanek has an 8 game points streak vs the Penguins with 12 points during that span, including 7 goals in his last five games vs the Penguins.
— James Neal has 69 goals and 133 points in his last 133 regular season games.
— The Penguins are 9th in the NHL in goals against per game, giving up just 2.29 per. They are giving up less chances and come into tonight’s game allowing 25 shots per game. Last season the Penguins allowed 30 shots per game, an improvement of 5 shots per.
— For fans hoping to see Robert Bortuzzo in the lineup with Deryk Engelland coming out, don’t count on it.
TONIGHT’S PENGUINS LINEUP
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis
Jussi Jokinen – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Chris Conner – Brandon Sutter – Andrew Ebbett
Zach Sill – Joe Vitale – Craig Adams
Brooks Orpik – Deryk Engelland
Olli Maatta – Kris Letang
Simon Despres – Matt Niskanen
MARC ANDRE FLEURY