-First things first, Tyler will not play tonight due to an illness. Trevor Smith, recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL today, will play in his place.
-Smith will wear No. 23. He will be the first player to wear that number since Ryan Craig all the way back in 2011. Looking at the team's history, No. 23 isn't exactly a number which has been worn by too many great players:
Jean Guy Legace
-Other than Woytowich, who mostly wore No. 3 in his time with the Penguins and was primarily famous for being Polish more than anything else, Shack, who was more famous for his time with Maple Leafs and wore No. 23 because it resembled his initials backwards, Hillier and Samuelsson, there's a lot of bad hockey players on that list.
-Smith will be the fourth University of New Hampshire product to play for the Penguins. He joined Bognuniecki, Brickley and Ty Conklin.
-Smith is a center by trade but he can play all forward positions. We're assuming he'll just be slotted into Kennedy's spot on the third line right wing in place of Kennedy, but he's probably a top-six skill player at whatever level he's at.
-The Penguins are facing an Islanders team which presumably will be hungry after being thumped by the Canadiens last night. The Islanders are in the playoff race late in the season for the first time in a few years. They need points.
-When talking about the best lines in the NHL, the conversation probably starts and ends with the Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Pascal Dupuis line. But pay attention to the Islanders' top line of Matt Moulson, John Tavares and Brad Boyes. Moulson and Tavares have developed a wonderful chemistry the past few seasons. Tavares creates so many things while Moulson feeds off him by being a strong net-front presence. Boyes was picked off the scrap heap this season and has just fit in wonderfully with his slick skill set and strong skating ability.
-The Penguins are gunning for their 11th consecutive win.
-The Penguins' starters are Pascal Dupuis, Sidney Crosby, Sidney Crosby, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Tomas Vokoun.
-Their scratches are Robert Bortuzzo, Tyler Kennedy and Kris Letang.
-The Islanders' starters are Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, Travis Hamonic, Andrew MacDonald and Evgeni Nabokov.
-Their scratches are Eric Boulton, Thomas Hickey and Radek Martinek.
18:50: Neal on with Brandon Sutter and Matt Cooke, snaps off a wrister from the right wing with Mark Streit blocks.
17:55: Bennett is on with Dustin Jeffrey and Smith. Bennett lifts a wrister from the right circle wide to the far side.
17:18: Colin McDonald tries to jam in a forehand shot form in tight but Vokoun holds it out.
16:29: Play is halted as Matt Martin sort of gets into a fight with Craig Adams. He hit Adams on the right wing boards of the Penguins' zone, asked him to fight and dropped the gloves. Martin appeared to get into rights in tight before Adams tried to grapple him and fell. Give that one to Martin.
16:15: Bailey snaps off a wrister from the right circle which Vokoun kicks out.
16:02: Whoa. Andrew MacDonald whacks a slapper from above the left circle. It hits something in fton. An dticles behidn him. It glances off Nielsen's leg as he drives to the cage and trickles in the blue pain. Mark Eaton has Nielsen's stick tied up and prevents him from punching in an easy goal. Vokoun waves his stick hand behind him and sweeps the loose puck away. Yikes.
13:32: Bailey gets an acre of ice off a pass on the left wing and lifts a wrister to the far side. Vokoun's blocker punches it away. The islanders have gotten all the scoring chances thus far.
12:52: Off a turnover by Paul Martin in his own zone, McDonald snaps off a wrister which Vokoun turns away.
12:35: Jeffrey has a wrister from the slot blocked out of play by Casey Cizikas' stick. With the first stoppage after his penalty expires, Adams retreats to the dressing room.
12:17: Fighting off Deryk Engelland, Reasoner gets off a wrister from the left circle. Vokoun kicks it out. Reasoner charges in on the rebound
12:14: The Islanders eventually cash in after all those chances. Nielsen wins a faceoff in the left circle of the Pengins' zone against Jeffrey, Matt Carnker takes the puck on the left wall and deals to Streit at the center point. Streit rockets a one-timer through a block attempt by Tanner Glassi and by the glove hand of Vokoun. That was too easy. It looked like there was some curve on that shot. It took a funny route to the net. Carkner and Nielsen get assists. Islanders 1-0.
11:03: Off a turnover by Penguins in their own zone, Visnovsky pounds a slapper from the right point. Vokoun fights it off.
10:55: Tavares and Moulson each have chances in tight but can't tuck it by a sprawling Vokoun.
8:46: Cizikas snaps off a wrister from the right circle which Eaton partially blocks with a stick. The Penguins have yet to record a shot on net.
8:43: Off another clean faceoff win in the offenisve zone by Okposo against Crosby, Hamonic pounds a one-timer from the right point. Simon Despres blocks it.
8:33: Dupuis collects a loose puck ont he right half wall and snaps off a wrister which MacDonald blocks in the slot.
7:08: The Penguins finally get a shot on net. Neal galllops into the offensive zone one-on-one with Joe Finley. Using the big Finley as a screen, he rips a wrister from above the left circle. Nabokov gloves it. During the stoppage, Adams returns to the bench.
6:56: Boyes glides up through tes hlto around Orpik but loses the puck to a poke check by Orpik.
5:29: Eaton chops a half slapper from the left point which is blocked in fton.
4:48: Dupuis drops MacDonald with a low check in the Islanders' right wing corner.
3:29: Streit makes a slick rush through the offensive zone. He weaves aroudn Paul Martin and whips a wrister wide to the far side from the left of the cage.
2:58: Replay show Kunitz and Okposo crashing into the right wing boards of the Penguins' zone. Kunitz heads to the bench in discomfort. No clue what was ailing him. Athletic trainer Chris Stewart was attending to him on the bench. A second replay appears to show Okoposo jabbing Kunitz in the right ribs with the butt-end of his stick. Ouch.
2:53: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Paul Martin snaps off a wrister from above the right circle which hits astick.
1:26: A loose puck slide to Matt Niskanen above the left circle. Niskanen steps up and hammers a one-timer on net. Nabokov kicks it out.
1:19: On a delayed penalty. Despres sails a wrister from aboe the lefright circle. which abokov fights off desptie traffic.
0:55: Matt Martin is sent off for holding Adams in the left wing corner of the New York line. Great shift by the fourth line to create a few chances and draw a penalty. Paul Martin, Niskanen, Crosby, Neal and Kunitz take the ice.
0:00: End of period. Islanders 1, Penguins 0.
-What a rotten start for the Penguins. When was the last time they had an opening period that bad. They generated a few things late but that was pretty ugly.
-The Penguins' top line was pretty well bottled up. The Islanders stuck their second line on the Penguins line in a shutdown role and the pairing of MacDonald and Hamonic once again drew a ton of assignments against Crosby.
-MacDonald and Hamonic were on the ice for six of the seven faceoffs Crosby took. The one they weren't was after an icing call against the Islanders which prevented them from changing lines.
-The Islanders did an effective job of clogging up their zone with bodies. They limited the passing and shooting lanes the Penguins could work with. Very little got through on net as a result.
-It would be a stretch to say Trevor Smith stood out whatsoever. He had 3:53 of ice time on five shifts and one blocked shot.
-Tomas Vokoun got a lot of work in that period. I'm sure he'd appreciate if his teammates joined him.
-There were only three faceoffs in the Penguins' zone but the Islanders won all three. One led to the Streit goal.
-The Islanders are dominating shots, 14-3.
-Marty Reasoner leads the game with three.
-Niskanen, Neal and Crosby each lead the Penguins with one.
-Niskanen leads the game with 8:46 of ice time.
-MacDonald leads the Islanders with 7:49.
-Faceoffs are tied, 9-9 (50 percent).
-Okoposo is 4 for 4 (100 percent).
-Jeffrey is 2 for 4 (50 percent).
-Orpik, MacDonald and Nielsen each lead the game with two blocked shots.
20:00: The Penguins will start the period with 1:05 of power-play time on fresh ice. Paul Martin, Niskanen, Crosby, Neal and Kunitz take the ice.
19:46: Off a feed from Kunitz below the goal line, Neal jabs a wrister on net from the left circle. It clanks off the near post.
19:03: Niskanen whacks a one-timer from the left half wall wide on the near side.
18:51: As the Martin minor expires, Niskanen lifts a one-timer from the left point high to the wide side. Nabokov fights it off.
17:43: From the right point, Engelland chucks a wrister from the right point. Nabokov gloves it.
17:05: Vokoun comes up with some tough saves. Lubomir Visnovsky chops a half wrister at the cage from the right point. it hits something. Grabner is in the slot, spins and whips the rebound on net. Vokoun kicks it out with his left leg.
16:27: Niskanen chops a slapper from the right point. It hits the stick of Crosby in the slot and deflects just wide to the far side.
15:29: Play is delayed for a repair to the ice.
14:53: Orpik chops a slapper from the left point which hits something in front.
13:39: Kunitz snaps off a wrister from the left circle which is blocked by Carkner.
12:29: Off a giveaway by Orpik in his own zone, Cizikas pounds a slapper from the left wing. Vokoun steers it away.
11:49: Secondary scoring. The Penguins have it. After McDonald fumbles a puck at his own blue line, Adams takes the puck, gains the offenisve zone on the left wing, draws in Visnovsky and chips a little backhanded pass to the great Joe Vitaoel in the left circle. That creates a two-on-one with Vitale and Glass against Hamonic. As Hamonic lays down to take away the pass, Vitale lifts a wrister to the far side by the glove hand of Vokoun. What a shot. The Penguins to a little lucy and cash in. Adams gets the only assist. Islanders 1, Penguins 1.
11:35: Hamonic races into the offenive zone and booms a slapper from the right point. Vokoun punches it away.
11:28: Neal races into the offensive zone, loses the puck for a moment off a poke check from MacDonald. He recovers it, spints and cranks a slapper from the top of the slot. Nabokov fights it off.
11:22: MacDonald recovers the rebound but loses it on a forecheck by Cooke and Sutter. Cooke deals to Neal moving in on net as the "F3" forward. Neal has a few chances but can't beat Nabokov.
10:59: Carkner cranks a slapper from the right point. Vokoun eats it up.
9:38: Orpik chucks a wrister fromt he left half wall on net. Nabokov fights it off.
9:27: Crosby steals a puck off Nielsen behind the New York net, fends off a check from Hamonic and deals a pass to the slot. It hits a stick and defelcts die.
9:20: Crosby rockets a one-timer from the left circle which is blocked.
8:19: Carkner booms a slapper from the top of the slot which is fought off by Vokoun.
6:53: Visnovsky wires a slapper from the right circle through traffic. Vokoun is able to hug it against his chest.
5:59: Off a turnover by Sutter in the Penguins' right circle, McDonald chops a slapper from above the slapper. Vokoun traps it against his chest.
6:36: Eaton collects a puck at the lef tpoint and chops slapper whch is kicked out by Nabokov's left skate.
4:05: The Islanders are dominating puck possession in the offensive zone. Finley flings a wrister from above the left circle. Matt Martin is battling Despres in the slot. Martin managed to re-direct it on net. Vokoun fights that off. There's a scramble for the rebound. Reasoner whips a wrister from the left circle. Vokoun is swimming in his crease and manages to kick his legs up to fight off the puck. What a robbery.
3:49: Visnovsky fires a slapper from the right point which is deflected out of play by Glass.
3:35: Dupuis pushes a shot on net from the right circle. Nabokov fights it off. Dupuis and Crosby each have looks at the rebound but nothing doing.
2:47: The Islanders outwork the Penguins for a goal. MacDonald flings a wrister from the left point. Vokoun kicks it out whtihis left leg. The Islanders keep the rebound alive in the zone. Hamonic ends up with it at the right point. He whips a wrister towars the net. It hits a body and rattles around as Vokoun swims in his crease. Bailey is able to settle the puck and tucks it under Vokon's glove hand. That was pure and simple hard work. The Penguins' top line was on the ice too long and was gassed while defending. Tavares and Hamonic get assists. Islanders 2-1.
1:23: Taking a point-to-point pass from Despres at the right point, Niskanen chops a slapper. It hits Nabokov. Cooke has chance at the rebound to the right of the cage but whacks it wide on the near side.
0:59: Off a cross-over with Neal, Crosby whips a wrister from aobve the right circle over the cage.
0:13: The Penguins' top line gets uncorked late. Late in a shift, Crosby chugs up the right wing, gains the offensive zone and centers a pass to kunitz in the slot. As Dupuis drives to the cage, drawing MacDonald with him, Kunitz grips and rips a wrister which clunks through Nabokov's five hole and slides into the cage. A bad goal for Nabokov to allow. Crosby and Dupuis get assists. Islanders 2, Penguins 2.
0:02: Boyes chucks a wrister on net from the right circle. Vokoun hugs it against his chest.
0:00: End of period. Islanders 2, Penguins 2.
-That was a much more even period. THere was plenty of back and forth action. Each team exchanged chances and had fair amounts of sustained pressure.
-That last goal by Kunitz aside, the goaltending in this game has been stellar. Vokoun and Nabokov have really put on a show this game.
-The Penguins' second line had a pretty strong line. Cooke and Sutter did a lot of the dirty work with the forecheck while Neal put some quality shots on net.
-How confident does Niskanen look with his shot? He's putting pucks on net like he's Al MacInnis.
-The Penguins' top line once again saw plenty of the Islanders second line and the Hamonic-MacDonald pairing. We would expect more of the same in the third period.
-The Islanders lead in shots, 28-17.
-Bailey leads the game with five shots.
-Niskanen leads the Penguins with four shots.
-Niskanen leads the game with 16:16 of ice time.
-Streit leads the Islanders with 14:59.
-The Penguins have a 20-17 edge in faceoffs (54 percent).
-Keith Aucoin is 6 for 9 (67 percent).
-Crosby is 8 for 14 (57 percent).
-MacDonald leads the game with four blocked shots.
-Engelland, Paul Martin, Orpik and Despres each lead the Penguins with two blocked shots.
19:16: Off a drop pass from Crosby, Paul Martin snaps off a wrister from the left circle which is blocked.
19:07: Boyes rushes up the left wing, cuts inside Niskanen and lifts a wrister over the cage.
18:29: A loose puck slide to Orpik at the left point. He steps up and booms a slapper on net. Nabokov fights it off.
18:14: Another go-ahead goal by Sutter. Off a lead apss by Neal, Cooke glides up the right wing, waits for Carkner to slide down for a block and tucks a backhanded pass from below the right circle to Sutter to the left of the crease. Streit lunges back for a backcheck but can't prevent Sutter from slamming in the easy forehand goal. Another clutch goal by Sutter. Cooke and Neal get assists. Penguins 3-2.
17:31: Visnovsky takes a pass at the left point and booms a slapper which something and appears to hit the cross bar. Visnovsky lifts his hands as the puck bounces ot the right wall. That will be reviewed on the next stoppage.
15:54: Taking a pass from Paul Martin, Kunitz whacks a slapper from the right point. Nabokov kicks it out.
14:03: Despres snaps off a wrister from the left half walll. Boyes blocks it.
13:00: Engelland snaps off a wrister from the right wing. Nabokov fight it off with his blocker.
12:45: Cizikas lifts a wrister from the left circle. Vokoun punches it out.
12:34: Cziikia deals a feed from the lef tcircle to the crease. It misses and kicks out to Carkner at the right half wall. He chops a slapper which Vokoun fights off.
12:23: Ciizkas is all over the place. he guns a wrister from the slot which Vokoun kicks out despite traffic.
11:55: A puck goes out of play and officials are able to review the shot by Visnovsky at the 17:31 mark. it hit off the near post, danced in front of the goal line and bounced away. No goal.
11:44: Cooke forces a turnover behind the New York net and deals a pass to Sutter in the slot. His shot hits something and bounces out of play.
10:28: Boyes flings a wrister from the right circle. Vokoun gloves it.
9:16: Sutter pounds a slapper from the right circle through traffic. Nabokov knocks it down and covers.
8:06: Off a sloppy play with the puck by the Penguins in their own zone, Hamonic cracks a slapper from above the right circle. Vokoun calmly eats it up.
7:33: The Islanders get their first power play late. Dupuis is nabbed for hooking MacDonald in the neutral zone. Orpik, Adams, Sutter and Paul Martin take the ice.
6:03: MacDonald booms a slapper from the above the right circle. Sutter slides down and blocks it.
5:52: The Islanders power play comes to an end as Bailey is called for interfering with Eaton in the slot. Bailey shoved Eaton from behidn with a slight cross check and Eaton went down fairly easily. Four on four for 20 seconds.
5:31: As the Dupuis minor expires, Despres slides a cross-ice pass to Jeffrey in the right circle. Jeffrey lifts a wrister which Nabokov fights off.
4:51: Niskanen chops a one-timer from the lef thalf wall. Nabokov says no.
3:52: The Bailey minor expires. The Penguins did little with that chance.
3:22: Orpik tries to settle a boucing puck at his blue line but misses with a kick attempt. Tavares pokes it by him and races up the left wing. Orpik hooks him up to prevent him from even getting a shot. Orpik recovers the puck in the left wing corner. That's two minutes for hooking. Another late chance for the Islanders.
2:45: Paul Martin blocks a shot by Tavares in the right circle. As he tries to recvoer the puck and play it down ice, Tavares hooks him up and sends him crashing into the boards. No call.
1:38: Vokoun gloves a wide shot by Visnovsky. The officials blow a quick whistle. The Islanders call a time-out to get organized. The Islanders pull Nabokov for an extra attacker.
1:20: As the Orpik minor is killed, Adams blocks a wrister by Moulson from the right circle.
0:14: Orpik banks a puck off the right wing bards up ice. It tircles into the
0:00: Dupuis whacks a puck from the right wing in the neutral zone with a backhander. it bounces into the cage juuuuusstttt as the clock appears to expires. A replay shows the clock still had 0.1 seconds left when the puck crossed the line:
-It ends up counting. That's one of us:
-Crosby and Vokoun get assists. End of game. Penguins 4, Islanders 2.
-That was tough, hard-fought game which had a lousy start but wondeful ending for the Penguins. They withstood a brutal start in the first period, leveled things off in the second and took over in the third. As a result, they got their 11th consecutive win.
-As has been the case with this entire 11-game winning streak, the Penguins had contributions from all over the lineup in this one.
-Tomas Vokoun was the star of this game. He withstood a barrage of shots early on and kept the Penguins in this. If he's not tune in early, the Penguins are in a big hole early. He made some clutch saves, got a few bounces and earn a win.
-It only produced one goal - the winning one - but the second line was outstanding. For someone who has been forced out of practicing fully for some undisclosed reason, Matt Cooke was a demon on the forecheck. James Neal was a terror with all the shots he put on net. And Brandon Sutter just continues to be clutch.
-Defensively, the Penguins bottled up the Islanders' top line. Brad Boyes had a few offensive chances, but John Tavares, New York's best player, was nearly invisible tonight.
-The Penguins' top line was limited most of the game by the Islander's second line and the Travis Hamonic/Andrew MacDonald combination but it came through with a clutch game-tying goal late in the second period.
-The fourth line is starting to come around after being a non-factor for much of the season. After Craig Adams corralled a loose puck, he set up Joe Vitale for a goal on a two-on-one with Tanner Glass.
-Matt Niskanen was all over the ice tonight. He's become so confident with every facet of his game, especially his shot. He has to step up as well with Kris Letang injured.
-Trevor Smith hard hard to notice but in a third-line role, you probably don't want to notice him. He played a safe game for the most part. He had 10:24 of ice time on 13 shifts and one blocked shot.
-The Islanders led in faceoffs, 35-25.
-Niskanen and Josh Bailey each led the game with five shots.
-Paul Martin led the game with 25:40 of ice time.
-MacDonald led the Islanders with 23:53.
-The Penguins led in faceoffs, 30-23 (57 percent).
-Sidney Crosby was 11 for 18 (61 percent).
-Keith Aucoin was 7 for 11 (64 percent).
-MacDonald led the game with six shots.
-Martin and Deryk Engelland each led the Penguins with three blocked shots.
-Chris Kunitz recorded his 200th career point with the Penguins. He is the 37th player to reach that mark with the franchise.
-Brandon Sutter scored his 4th game-winning goal of the season. We'll have a good list on this tomorrow.
-Adams scored his 50th career point with the Penguins.