Pens host Islanders aiming for 3rd straight win

( - The Pittsburgh Penguins hope to have put a recent rough stretch behind them and will shoot for a third straight victory when they host the New York Islanders in Friday's Metropolitan Division battle.

The Penguins lost three straight in regulation earlier this month and that slide was part of a 1-4-0 stretch from Nov. 6-16. However, Pittsburgh has recorded consecutive wins this week and tonight the Pens will try for their first three-game winning streak since rattling off four straight victories from Oct. 28-Nov. 2.

Pittsburgh notched a 3-1 win in Monday's home test against the Anaheim Ducks and followed that triumph with Wednesday's 4-0 rout of the Washington Capitals in D.C. Pittsburgh outshot the Capitals by a 40-18 margin on Wednesday, as Marc-Andre Fleury recorded his second shutout of the season for the Penguins.

Paul Martin, Beau Bennett, Sidney Crosby and James Neal tallied for the Penguins, who were able to extend their lead over Washington for first in the Metropolitan to three points.

Evgeni Malkin contributed two assists towards Wednesday's win. The Russian star only has three goals through 22 games this season, but he is leading Pittsburgh with 19 helpers.

The Pens scored twice in the opening period, and added one goal in each of the next two stanzas to subdue their divisional foes.

"Our start was great, we came out hard, really set the tone and got that first (goal), which was important to us," Crosby said.

The Pens have a chance for revenge on Friday after losing the first of four scheduled meetings with the Islanders this season on Oct. 25. New York recorded a 4-3 regulation win in Pittsburgh thanks to Josh Bailey's game- winning goal with 1:40 left in the third period. It was the first meeting between the clubs since the Penguins ousted the Islanders in overtime of Game 6 of their first-round playoff series last spring.

The Isles and Pens have split the last eight encounters in the regular season and New York has taken three of the past five meetings in Steel City.

However, New York only has two wins over its last eight trips to the ice (2-6-0) and is coming off Tuesday's 5-2 loss in Toronto. Phil Kessel scored twice and Trevor Smith added a goal and two assists to lead the Maple Leafs to the easy win at Air Canada Centre.

Frans Nielsen and Casey Cizikas each scored once for the Islanders, while Kevin Poulin permitted all five goals on 24 shots in defeat.

"We definitely weren't hard enough on their skill and that's unacceptable," Cizikas said. "We played without a heartbeat tonight and it showed on the scoreboard."

The Isles fell to 3-7-0 as the road team after Tuesday's setback. They will complete a three-game road trip with Saturday's divisional test in Philadelphia.

New York has played the last five games without winger Thomas Vanek, who was acquired late last month in a trade with Buffalo. Vanek has been bothered by an upper-body injury, but could be back for Friday's tilt.

The Austrian sniper has one goal and two assists in six games since the trade and five goals and seven assists in 19 total contests this season.