Islanders vs. Penguins: Preview 3/30/13

The Islanders face the Pittsburgh Penguins this afternoon for the 5th and final time this season. After winning the first matchup, the Isles fell to the Pens in the three following games.

The Islanders come into today's 1pm matinee game at Energy Consol Centre tied for 8th place in the Eastern Conference with the New York Rangers. Thanks to a huge shootout victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night, New York is currently on their best win streak of the season at 3.

The first 39 minutes of Thursday's game in Philly looked grim for the Islanders who were down 2-0  until John Tavares backhanded the puck off of a Flyers defender and into the net. Colin McDonald was able to put two more up for the Isles, who allowed a power play goal in the final seconds of the third which tied the game.

The game ended up in the shootout, where Josh Bailey wristed one past Bryzgalov for the game-winner. Perhaps their biggest win of the season, the Isles are now exactly where they want to be to secure their first playoff birth since 2007.

Unfortunately, the success of the Isles this month is nothing compared to that of today's opponent, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens are currently riding a 14-game winning streak and have taken 1st place in the NHL over the Chicago Blackhawks.

In addition the to the unreal success of the team, Pittsburgh's GM has also been making headlines around the league lately. A week prior to this season's trade deadline, Ray Shero managed to acquire Douglas Murray from the San Jose Sharks, Brenden Morrow from the  Dallas Stars, and Jarome Iginla from the Calgary Flames. 

I should also mention that he did so without giving up one player from the current roster.

Although Morrow and Murray have joined the team already, Iginla will not be dressed today as he finalizes his immigration. In their most recent victory, the Pens defeated the Jets 4-0 with Murray and Morrow in the lineup.

As the Penguins look to further their incredible win streak, the Isles will be looking to put a halt to it for their own reasons. A win today will further their own current season best win streak, in addition to getting up on the Rangers in the standings for that 8th seed.

The Islanders are closer to the playoffs right now than they have been in years and they would be more than willing to take an 8th seed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Hypothetically, the Isles could certainly see the Penguins in the first or any round of the Playoffs, and today's matchup could give the fans an idea of how New York would fair against red-hot Pittsburgh in a post-season atmosphere.

 

-T.J. Weber

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