(SportsNetwork.com) – The New York Islanders will try to post their best start
in franchise history on Saturday night when they visit a Pittsburgh Penguins
squad aiming to rebound from their first loss of the campaign.
The Islanders have opened a season with four straight wins for the third time
in franchise history and for the first time since 2001-02. New York went on to
win 42 games that season and snap a seven-year playoff drought.
The Isles, though, have been to the postseason only twice since the lockout
and missed the playoffs last season after making it in 2012-13.
New York hosted an also 3-0 San Jose Sharks team on Thursday and picked up a
4-3 shootout victory. John Tavares had the winner in the fifth round, slowly
skating in before backhanding a shot past Alex Stalock into the net.
“I wasn’t very good in shootouts last year, so I just tried to change it up,”
Tavares added. “(Stalock) was playing aggressive all night coming out hard so
I just wanted to slow him down and make him uncomfortable.”
Tavares added two assists in regulation for his fourth straight multi-point
game, while Kyle Okposo, Nick Leddy and Josh Bailey each scored for the
Jaroslav Halak stopped 20-of-23 shots in the win.
“It was back-and-forth, good hockey,” Tavares said. “We stayed with our game
and got rewarded for it.”
It wasn’t a perfect night, though, as New York saw Mikhail Grabovski exit late
in the first period after taking a hard hit from John Scott. He did not return
and will not make the trip to Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh’s 3-2 loss to Dallas on Thursday also was highlighted by injury, a
scary incident involving forward Pascal Dupuis.
Dupuis was checked in the back by Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski with 6:58 to
go in the second period, falling to the ice in front of the Dallas crease. He
was then struck near the base of his neck by a Kris Letang shot.
The 35-year-old Dupuis immediately motioned to the bench for assistance and
was removed from the ice on a stretcher.
Thankfully, Dupuis was actually able to skate at Consol Energy Center on
Friday morning, moving around for 20 minutes and firing a few shots before
regular practice began.
“He looked fine this morning,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston said Friday. “He
got checked out by the medical staff. He’s been basically cleared by them.
They were just doing a couple more precautionary tests. They wanted to see him
out on the ice and getting his heart rate up.
“All signs were real positive this morning.”
After Dupuis exited Thursday’s game, the Penguins failed to hold a 2-1 lead
and were denied a point when the Stars’ Tyler Seguin scored on the power play
with 2.9 seconds left in regulation.
Sidney Crosby, who took a tripping call that led to Seguin’s goal, and Chris
Kunitz scored power-play goals in the first period for the Penguins, who fell
to 2-1-0 on the young season.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 25-of-28 shots in the loss.
“I think that the first two periods were pretty decent,” said Crosby. “I
thought in the third, they’re down one, they’re coming harder. We weren’t able
to get that next one to generate some chances. We probably made it a little
too easy on them, turning the puck over a bit.
“To not even get a point out of that, I think it’s a little frustrating.”
The Penguins have not had an issue getting points against the Islanders. They
have won 16 of the last 19 meetings at home and seven of the previous eight