Islanders (11-11-3, 25 pts) @ Penguins (17-8-0, 34 pts)
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin will be held out of tonight’s game vs the New York Islanders. Malkin suffered an upper body injury last night in the third period vs the Maple Leafs and was held out of overtime and the shootout vs Leafs. Speculation has centered around Malkin having a shoulder injury. Bylsma claimed a few hours before tonight’s game that Malkin does not have a head injury.
“That is not a concern, no,” Bylsma said when asked if Malkin’s injury was concussion related. “Just an upper body injury,” Bylsma said.
Bylsma indicated Malkin will be further evaluated during tonight’s game and the team will provide another update after the game.
With Malkin sidelined, Joe Vitale will return to the lineup tonight for the Penguins who have won four straight.
On the blueline tonight, Deryk Engelland is a healthy scratch with Mark Eaton returning to the lineup. Eaton was paired with Kris Letang during warmups, while Matt Niskanen and Simon Despres were the third pairing.
The Goaltending matchup tonight will be Tomas Vokoun (5-3-0, 3.32 GAA) vs Evgeni Nabokov (11-7-3, 2.87 GAA). Nabokov is 10-3-0 with a 1.80 GAA all-time against the Penguins. Vokoun has pretty good numbers against the Islanders in his career, posting a 14-7-1 record against with a 2.08 GAA and 4 shutouts in 23 games vs Islanders.
The Islanders in contention for one of the final playoff spots at the half way mark of the season, have won three of four games. New York is 6-3-1 on the road this season and trail No. 8 New Jersey by two points.
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis
Beau Bennett – Dustin Jeffrey – James Neal
Matt Cooke – Brandon Sutter – Tyler Kennedy
Tanner Glass – Joe Vitale – Craig Adams
Brooks Orpik – Paul Martin
Mark Eaton – Kris Letang
Simon Despres – Matt Niskanen
Tomas Vokoun in Goal
Scratches: Evgeni Malkin, Deryk Engelland, Robert Bortuzzo