Tonight marks the first rematch between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins since the February 11th melee in Long Island.
The last meeting on February 11th, featured 65 penalties, 346 penalty minutes, 15 fighting majors, 20 misconducts and 10 injections in the Islanders’ 9-3 victory.
It’s a game fans and players from both teams will probably never forget.
So what could we expect tonight?
The New York Islanders are saying the ball is in the Penguins “court” tonight regarding any carryover from the last game.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably in the Penguins’ hands how the game is going to be played out,” Islanders enforcer Zenon Konopka told New York Reporters on Thursday.
Islanders goon Trevor Gillies who was suspended nine games for elbowing Eric Tangradi in the head, says the Islanders are ready to answer the bell tonight.
“If the bell needs to be answered…
we’ve got the guys to answer it, ” Gillies said this week.”
The Penguins meanwhile have said their focus is on getting two points not revenge. “We want those two points, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said.
However, Bylsma is not taking any risks and will adjust his lineup accordingly.
Enforcer Eric Godard will return to the lineup for the first time since February 11th, when he received a 10 game suspension for leaving the Penguins bench to protect goaltender Brent Johnson as Isles forward Micheal Haley came from the other end of the ice to fight Johnson.
Godard will skate on the 4th line with Mike Rupp and Craig Adams.
Meanwhile, Arron Asham will move up to the third line with Max Talbot and Pascal Dupuis.
Chris Conner, Eric Tangradi and Mike Comrie will be among the Penguins healthy scratches tonight.
The Penguins are also expected to make one more lineup change and based off the morning skate, defenseman Deryk Engelland is expected to return to the lineup.
If things get out of hand, the Penguins will be able to take care of themselves.
Inserting Godard and Engelland back in the lineup will be a message to the Islanders.
Marc Andre Fleury (35-20-5, 2.31 GAA) will get the start in goal for Pittsburgh. Al Montoya will start for New York. Montoya is 9-5-4 this season with a 2.37 GAA.
The Penguins will be scoreboard watching tonight as the Flyers have a road contest against the surging Buffalo Sabres and the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Florida Panthers.
The Penguins trail Philadelphia by one point and have a three point lead over the Lightning.
With a win tonight, the Penguins clinch home-ice in the first round.
The Islanders could dictate the Atlantic Division winner with back-to-back games against Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to finish their season.
Neal – Letestu – Kovalev
Kunitz – Staal – Kennedy
Asham – Talbot – Dupuis
Adams – Rupp – Godard
Orpik – Letang
Martin – Michalek
Lovejoy – Engelland
Marc Andre Fleury in goal.