NHL Pre-Game Notes: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Islanders

Charles LeClaire – USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s game between the Pittsburgh Penguins (23-8-0, 46 points) and the New York Islanders (13-14-3, 29 points) will be televised locally on ROOT Sports – Pittsburgh and nationally on NHL Network (US) and RDS2. Face off is set for 7:00 pm (est) at Nassau Coliseum.

The Penguins will now be looking to make it 11 wins in a row tonight against the Islanders. It will be the fourth game in the five-game series between the two clubs. Pittsburgh has won the last two out of three matchups against the Islanders, but they will once again be without Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang as head coach Dan Bylsma told the media that neither will return to the lineup tonight against New York.

Matt Cooke was absent again from this morning’s skate but he will be in tonight’s lineup to play against the Isles according to Bylsma.

Penguins recalled forward Trevor Smith earlier this afternoon from their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre Scranton.  I’m not certain what this move is about since Bylsma confirmed that Cooke will be in the lineup, but I’m thinking it may just be a precaution.

The projected line combinations based on this morning’s skate are as follows:

POWER PLAY UNIT(S): First unit consists of Paul Martin, Matt Niskanen, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby; second unit was made up of Simon Despres, Dustin Jeffrey, Beau Bennett, Brandon Sutter, Tyler Kennedy;

FORWARDS: Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis, Bennett-Jeffrey-Neal, Matt Cooke (Malkin)-Brandon Sutter-Kennedy, Tanner Glass-Joe Vitale-Craig Adams;

DEFENSEMEN: Brooks Orpik-Martin, Niskanen-Mark Eaton, Robert Bortuzzo-Despres (Deryk Engelland). The starting goalie in net for the Penguins tonight is Tomas Vokoun.

NEW YORK INJURY / LINE INFO
Evgeni Nabokov is the projected starting net minder for New York tonight.

PROJECTED LINES:

FORWARDS
Matt Moulson – John Tavares – Brad Boyes
Josh Bailey – Frans Nielsen – Kyle Okposo
Casey Cizikas – Keith Aucoin – Colin McDonald
Michael Grabner – Marty Reasoner – Matt Martin

DEFENSEMEN
Travis Hamonic – Andrew MacDonald
Thomas Hickey – Lubomir Visnovsky
Mark Streit – Radek Martinek

Stephanie Lewark is a featured Pittsburgh Penguins writer for RantSports.com. Follow her on Twitter (@steelcitysports), check out her Facebook page, or add her to your Google+ circle.

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