Streaking Pens return home to face Isles

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The New York Islanders will aim for a third straight win in the Steel City, as they kick off a three-game road trip Sunday by battling the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center.

After splitting a pair of meetings with the Islanders this season, Pittsburgh has won six of nine and eight of 12 in this series. However, New York has won two straight on the road against the Penguins after dropping its previous 13 games in Pittsburgh.

The Islanders recorded a 4-1 win at Pittsburgh on Jan. 29. New York goaltender Evgeni Nabokov played a crucial role in that game, stopping 37-of-38 shots. The Penguins later responded with a 4-2 win at the Islanders on Feb. 5.

New York enters Sunday's matchup having won three of its last four games and has recorded at least a point in five straight contests (3-0-2).

The Isles used a strong third period Saturday afternoon to take down the visiting Washington Capitals. John Tavares scored a pair of power-play goals just 30 seconds apart in the final stanza, propelling New York to a 5-2 decision at Nassau Coliseum.

The Capitals tied the score at 2-2 on Nicklas Backstrom's marker with 12:51 left in the third, but Tavares scored with 7:47 left in regulation and added another marker with 7:17 remaining.

Washington's Mike Ribeiro was given a pair of minors at the 8:48 mark to set up Tavares' first goal. Shortly after that the Isles' star centerman then capitalized on Jeff Schultz's double-minor for high-sticking.

Josh Bailey and Casey Cizikas also scored for New York, which received 22 saves from Nabokov.

The Isles ended their seven-game homestand with a 3-2-2 record and the club kicks off a three-game road trip on Sunday. New York has won its last two away from the Coliseum and is 6-3-1 as the guest this season.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has won four straight to begin the month of March and has posted victories in nine of its past 12 games. As a result, the Penguins have opened a seven-point lead over New Jersey for first place in the Atlantic Division and are just two back of Montreal for the top seed in the East.

The Pens received a scare from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, but despite blowing an early lead were able to record a 5-4 shootout win at Air Canada Centre. James Neal and Sidney Crosby scored in the shootout to help the Penguins secure two points on the road.

Neal finished the first round with a shot between the pads of Leafs goaltender James Reimer, and after Marc-Andre Fleury flashed his pad to stop Nazem Kadri, Crosby ended the game with a high wrister.

"I wasn't happy giving up four goals, so I wanted to make sure we got those two points at the end," said Fleury.

Neal, Paul Martin, Crosby and Pascal Dupuis tallied in regulation for the Penguins, while Fleury did just enough for the win, recording 22 saves.

Pittsburgh led the game by a 3-1 count after one period and was up 4-3 heading into the third before Toronto's Phil Kessel tied it at 4-4 with 4:20 remaining in regulation.

Evgeni Malkin left Saturday's game with what the team is calling an upper-body injury after taking a hard hit from Toronto's James van Riemsdyk in the third period. He returned briefly before sitting out the last few minutes of regulation, overtime and the shootout.

Malkin recently missed four games with a concussion before returning to action on March 4. Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma didn't specify Malkin's injury and it's unclear if he will play Sunday.

"He'll certainly be re-evaluated," Bylsma said. "In the game, it was more precautionary than anything at that point in time."

Malkin has 24 points on five goals and 19 assists this season.

The Pens are playing two straight and five of their next six on home ice. Pittsburgh has actually fared better on the road this season, however, going 11-4-0 as the guest compared to a 6-4-0 mark at CONSOL Energy Center.