(SportsNetwork.com) - After retaining New York bragging rights, the Islanders next try to keep hold of first place in the Metropolitan Division on Friday night as they battle the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Islanders blanked the New York Rangers 3-0 on Tuesday to remain a point ahead of the Penguins in the standings. Pittsburgh routed the Minnesota Wild 7-2 the same night.
Jaroslav Halak made 27 saves for his fourth shutout of the season and 34th of his career, while Anders Lee, Nikolay Kulemin and Frans Nielsen all scored second-period goals. That barrage allowed the Isles to finish off a seven-game road trip at 5-2-0.
"Certainly it's going to make a lot of people on Long Island happy (Wednesday) morning," Islanders captain John Tavares said. "We're excited about beating them. Obviously they've been playing well and the top of our division is real tight, so just a big game."
Islanders forward Mikhail Grabovski missed his second game in a row due to a lower-body injury and is doubtful for tonight.
Though the Isles will visit Montreal on Saturday, tonight figures to be a battle of recently named All-Stars. Both Halak and Penguins netminder Marc- Andre Fleury were added to the event on Thursday as injury replacements.
Halak is 4-4-0 with a 2.10 goals against average and .925 save percentage in eight career meetings with the Penguins, while Fleury has gone 20-7-4 with a 2.51 GAA, .916 save percentage and four shutouts in 34 encounters (32 starts) with the Islanders.
Fleury made 30 saves in Tuesday's win over the Wild, who had been the only team other than the Penguins that the netminder had never beaten.
David Perron scored twice and had an assist, while Sidney Crosby set up three goals as Pittsburgh won its second straight and for the fourth time in six games. Paul Martin, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang each finished with a goal and an assist.
"I thought we got better as the game went along," Penguins head coach Mike Johnston said. "(Perron) has a quick release shot and is dangerous around the net."
Penguins forward Steve Downie left the game early after taking an elbow to the head from Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter, who received a two-game suspension for the hit. Downie, though, was able to practice on Wednesday.
Forward Mark Arcobello could make his Penguins debut tonight after getting claimed off waivers on Wednesday from Nashville.
The Penguins won their first meeting this season with the Islanders, but New York has countered with a pair of victories, one at home and one on the road.
The Isles snapped a four-game series home losing streak to the Penguins with a 4-1 win on Nov. 22