Islanders Host Pens
The Pittsburgh Penguins have earned a point in five straight games, but leaving their weekend homestand with only two points wasn't exactly what they were hoping for.
Pittsburgh will look to get back on the winning track after a pair of non-regulation losses when it opens a three-game road trip with a matchup against the surging New York Islanders on Tuesday.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Pittsburgh -109 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 79% of bets for this game have been placed on Pittsburgh -109 (View NHL Bet Percentages).
The Penguins (35-21-7) seemed on their way to taking over the top spot in the Eastern Conference on Saturday when they led Ottawa 3-0 in the second period. But Pittsburgh's offense went silent from the middle of the second period on, and the Senators stormed back to win 4-3 in overtime.
A day later, the offense was quiet again as Pittsburgh lost 2-1 in a shootout to San Jose.
"It was a big test for us to play those teams," coach Michel Therrien said. "I was afraid of this game (Sunday) because of many reasons, and we managed to get one point but we couldn't get two."
Erik Christensen and Jarkko Ruutu scored in the shootout for the Penguins, but goaltender Ty Conklin couldn't stop any of the three Sharks.
Conklin has been one of the league's biggest surprises since starter Marc-Andre Fleury was injured in early December. In 25 starts, he's gone 16-4-5 with a 2.10 goals-against average, and his .931 save percentage leads the NHL.
But Fleury is finally healthy after missing 35 games with a high ankle sprain, and is expected to get a start sometime this week. For now, the Penguins will keep Fleury, Conklin and Dany Sabourin with the club, an unusual practice.
"We all get along very good, so I'm sure we'll find ways to adjust to it and show everybody we'll be fine," said Fleury, who was 9-8-1 with a 2.90 GAA prior to being injured.
The Penguins' scoring drought over the last 90 minutes of the weekend coincided with some rare struggles from Evgeni Malkin. The 21-year-old center is tied for the NHL points lead with Washington's Alexander Ovechkin, but had his 10-game point streak (eight goals, 16 assists) snapped on Saturday.
Malkin hasn't scored a goal in his last 11 games against the Islanders, though he does have 10 assists in that stretch.
New York (30-26-7) had won six straight to climb back into the conference playoff race following a seven-game losing streak, but was unable to make it seven wins in a row on Saturday, falling 4-2 at New Jersey.
"The effort was there but I don't think we had enough fight in us," said Bill Guerin, who leads the team with 19 goals. "We're by no means in any position to take a night off and just start dropping games."
The Islanders are the only team in the NHL without a 20-goal scorer.
Considering it's scored the fewest goals (156) in the East, New York has had to lean heavily on Rick DiPietro to win games. DiPietro posted a 3.70 GAA during the seven-game losing streak, but is 6-1-0 with a 2.27 GAA since.
"We definitely made some positive strides, but we're still not where we want to be," DiPietro said Saturday.
DiPietro is 1-3-0 with a 3.10 GAA this season against the Penguins, who lead the season series 3-2.
The Penguins have scored at least one power-play goal in their past 12 games, while the Islanders haven't scored one in their last four.
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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