Islanders Hope To Break Pittsburgh Losing Streak
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins are getting anxious about when they’ll pick up their first win in their new arena. Facing a team they beat eight consecutive times in their old one should provide an excellent opportunity.
The Penguins have dropped their first three games at Consol Energy Center, but they haven’t lost to the New York Islanders in Pittsburgh in nearly three years heading into Friday night’s meeting.
There hasn’t been any sort of home-ice advantage thus far for the Penguins (1-3-0) in their new building, which is across the street from the now-defunct Mellon Arena.
Pittsburgh has lost all three games in the NHL’s newest venue by one goal. It led 2-1 after one period Wednesday against Toronto, but allowing three straight goals in the second proved to be too much to overcome in a 4-3 loss.
“Each game that goes by, especially when you expect to win each one, it starts to get discouraging,” defenseman Paul Martin said. “That’s something we can’t concentrate on.”
The Penguins went 26-1-1 last season when they scored four goals, something they’ve yet to do. They’re also getting minimal contributions from their two biggest stars – Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have each been held to a goal and an assist apiece, hardly numbers befitting a duo that combined for 186 points last season.
“There’s frustration that comes with not creating chances, and there’s frustration that comes when they seem not to go in,” Crosby said. “… We’ve all done a pretty good job of creating chances, it’s just a matter of having it go in.”
Also of concern is goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, whose .853 save percentage is the league’s worst. He’s been in net for all three losses, while backup Brent Johnson notched the lone victory.
Though Fleury is 6-0-1 with a 1.68 goals-against average in his last seven games against the Islanders (1-1-1), coach Dan Bylsma said Thursday he’ll start Johnson, who’s 4-7-0 with a 4.04 GAA versus New York.
Pittsburgh is 15-3-1 in the series’ last 19 games and especially dominant at home. The Penguins outscored New York 39-15 in winning the last eight meetings at Mellon Arena. Malkin had seven goals and eight assists in those victories, while Crosby has recorded four goals and 11 assists in his last five home games against the Islanders.
New York looked like it would be in for some high-scoring games after its first two contests, a 5-4 shootout loss against Dallas on Saturday and a 6-4 win over the Rangers on Monday.
Things settled down Wednesday against one of the league’s premier offensive teams. Though the Islanders were even with Washington through 56 minutes, Nicklas Backstrom’s late power-play goal was enough to lift the Capitals to a 2-1 win.
“The end result wasn’t too good, but I think as a team we did a great job,” rookie Nino Niederreiter, who scored his first NHL goal, told the Islanders’ official website. “We had a good effort.”
Both teams have injury issues heading into this game. New York center John Tavares has missed the past two games with a concussion and could be held out again Friday, while defenseman James Wisniewski will serve the back end of a two-game suspension.
Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik (groin) is day to day, but fellow defenseman Zbynek Michalek will miss two to four weeks with a right shoulder injury.
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