ISLANDERS (31-33-11, 73 pts) @ PENGUINS (47-22-6, 100 pts)
MORNING SKATE BUZZ
PITTSBURGH — Defenseman Ben Lovejoy and Kris Letang are not participating in the morning skate. Indications are Lovejoy is definitely out of tonight’s game, while Letang’s availability is unclear. He delivered a hard hit on Danius Zubrus in Sunday’s game and was shook up but later returned to the game.
The Penguins yesterday recalled Simon Despres and Brian Strait and at least one of them will play and both will if Letang is out. Both players are participating in the morning skate. Despres worked the second power play unit, a strong sign he’s in for tonight.
Steve Sullivan who missed Sunday’s game due to a lower body injury, is participating in today’s skate. He appears likely to play.
Crosby to play with Dupuis
Sidney Crosby is expected to play with Pascal Dupuis tonight. Head coach Dan Bylsma started moving in that direction Sunday night, and Crosby centered Dupuis and Tyler Kennedy this morning.
Matt Cooke will be back with Jordan Staal, while it appears based off this morning’s line rushes, Eric Tangradi will move back in the lineup with Richard Park coming out.
Morning Skate Lines
Kunitz – Malkin – Neal
Dupuis – Crosby – Kennedy
Cooke – Staal – Sullivan
Tangradi – Adams – Asham
Extra’s: Jeffrey, Park.
Power play Setup
1st unit: Crosby and Sullivan at points with Malkin, Neal and Kunitz.
2nd Unit: Despres and Martin at the points with Cooke, Kennedy and Staal.
Injury Report: Matt Niskanen and Joe Vitale continue to work their back as both skated prior to the morning skate, going through individual on-ice workouts. It is expected that both will be cleared to return to the lineup at somepoint this week.
Backup goaltender Brent Johnson is a full participant in today’s morning skate and is close to being cleared for game action.
*The Penguins 27-8-2 at home this season, have won 10 straight at home and are trying to win 11 in a row at home for the first time in 21 years.
*Sidney Crosby has 25 points in 15 games this season, including 13 points in seven games since returning to the lineup on March 15th. Crosby has torched the Islanders in his career, collecting 20 goals and 66 points in 34 career games.
*Pascal Dupuis having a career season with 23 goals and 27 assists, has 8 goals with 5 assists during his 10-game point streak. The Penguins are 20-1-1 when Dupuis scores.