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HOCKEY

Pens try for 5th straight win and home-and-home sweep of Isles

The Pittsburgh Penguins will aim for a fifth straight and-home series when they host the New York Islanders tonight at Consol Energy Center.

The Penguins welcomed Evgeni Malkin back to the ice on Tuesday and recorded a 3-0 road victory over the Islanders. It was the fourth win in a row for Pittsburgh, which ended the 2010-11 regular season on a four-game winning streak. The Pens' last stretch of five straight wins came from Jan. 22-Feb. 4 of last season.

Pascal Dupuis, Richard Park and Jordan Staal each had a goal for the Penguins and Marc-Andre Fleury turned away 33 shots to record his first shutout of the season.

"The guys in front of me did a good job blocking shots and taking rebounds away," said a humble Fleury.

Meanwhile, Malkin recorded three shots in his return to the Pittsburgh lineup. He had missed the last five contests and seven of eight with a sore right knee -- the same one that the Russian forward had season-ending surgery on in February.

Even though Malkin has returned, the Penguins are still plagued by injuries. The club currently has six players on injured reserve, including superstar captain Sidney Crosby, who is still recovering from a concussion suffered in January.

Pittsburgh has won two straight, four of five and nine of the last 11 meetings with the Isles overall and New York has dropped 11 straight in the Steel City. The Islanders' last road victory in this series came on Dec. 21, 2007.

The Islanders have lost three straight games and Tuesday's setback marked the second time they've been shut out in seven games this season. Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves for New York, which last dropped four in a row from April 2-9 of last season.

"We still have to make some improvements," Islanders forward John Tavares said. "We have to find a way to put a few in the net."

Oft-injured goaltender Rick DiPietro served as Nabokov's backup on Tuesday, marking the first time the former No. 1 overall pick has been in uniform since sustaining a concussion in practice on Oct. 12. The 30-year-old DiPietro, who is in the sixth year of a mammoth 15-year contract, could make his season debut tonight.

New York defenseman Milan Jurcina could also see his first action of the season tonight after suffering a groin injury late in training camp. Jurcina had 17 points in 46 games for the Islanders last season.