Pens visit Islanders aiming to push win streak to 11
The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to match the NHL's longest winning streak this season when they shoot for an 11th straight victory in Friday's road test against the New York Islanders.
Pittsburgh is perfect in March, winning 10 straight since last suffering a loss at Carolina on Feb. 28. The streak is one win shy of the league's longest run this season, which was the 11-game tear the Chicago Blackhawks went on from Feb. 15-March 6.
The Penguins' last six wins came without reigning Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin, who is nearing a return from a shoulder injury but will sit out another game on Friday.
Pittsburgh also lost top defenseman Kris Letang in Sunday's win over Boston and the blueliner will miss a second straight game with his lower-body issue.
Without either Malkin or Letang on Tuesday, the Penguins were able to post a 2-1 win over Washington. Matt Niskanen netted the winning goal in the third period and Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves to help Pittsburgh hold on for its 10th straight win overall and eighth in a row on home ice.
Paul Martin also scored for the Penguins and captain Sidney Crosby assisted on both tallies.
"It's obviously an important time in the game and I thought the penalty kill did an amazing job of stepping up to the challenge," Niskanen said. "We created a lot of energy and momentum from that. You could feel the crowd getting into it and we were able to go on a rush there and finish."
With the win, the Penguins also became the first team in NHL history to win at least 10 games in a row for three consecutive seasons. Pittsburgh went on an 11-game run from Feb. 21-March 17 of last season and won 12 in a row from Nov. 17-Dec. 11, 2010
Pittsburgh capped a three-game homestand with Tuesday's win over the Capitals and is playing just Thursday's road tilt before returning to the Steel City for another five-game stint at CONSOL Energy Center. The Pens, who lead the Eastern Conference with 46 points, are 11-4-0 on home ice this season and 12-4-0 on the road.
The Pens will try to continue their recent dominance against the Islanders on Thursday. Pittsburgh has won two straight and seven of 10 overall in this series and New York has lost four of the last five meetings at Nassau Coliseum. The Isles beat the Penguins by a 4-1 score in Pittsburgh on Jan. 29, but the Pens won the next two encounters by a combined 10-3 margin.
The Islanders have begun a four-game homestand with consecutive losses and on Thursday the club was on the wrong end of a 5-2 decision against Montreal. Brian Gionta snapped a 2-2 tie 48 seconds into the third period, igniting a three-goal final frame for the visiting Canadiens.
John Tavares and Lubomir Visnovsky supplied the goals for New York, which has given up a combined 10 third-period goals in its last three games.
"We got to go out there and show it for a full game," Tavares said. "It's not good enough and were not going to be successful unless we come together and understand that we need everyone going every night for a full 60 minutes."
Montreal native Kevin Poulin was beaten five times on 29 shots in his second start of the season for the Islanders. Evgeni Nabokov is expected to be back in net on Friday.
The Islanders, who are three points out of a postseason spot in the East, have been plagued by poor play on home ice, going 5-10-2 at the Coliseum in 2013.