Sidney Crosby scores more points against the New York Islanders than any other team in the NHL, and that’s a big reason why the Pittsburgh Penguins have dominated the series of late.
Crosby has scored a goal in all three meetings against the Islanders this season, a trend he’ll look to continue Friday night at Nassau Coliseum.
Crosby leads the NHL with 69 points, and it’s perfectly reasonable to expect him to add to that total in a meeting with New York (21-24-7). Pittsburgh’s captain has 80 points in 44 career regular-season games against the Islanders, adding nine in the playoffs last season.
He’s scored four goals and added an assist against New York this season, most recently getting the tying tally in the third period Dec. 3 on Long Island before scoring in overtime to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 win.
The Penguins are 25-6-2 over their past 33 regular-season matchups with the Islanders, taking six of the last seven while averaging 3.71 goals. New York scored three times in the third period to win 4-3 in Pittsburgh on Oct. 25.
The Penguins (35-13-2) had little trouble offensively Wednesday against Montreal, winning 5-1 while Crosby scored his 26th of the season. That performance came two days after Pittsburgh fell 5-1 to Florida, ending its franchise-record 13-game home winning streak.
"We definitely buckled down, especially defensively," said Crosby, who had no points and was a minus-3 versus the Panthers. "Didn’t give them a ton and when we did (Marc-Andre Fleury) made some great saves and we generated some good chances and capitalized on them. It was a good game to respond."
Fleury, who made 23 saves, has started back-to-back games once this season, following a win over Nashville on Nov. 15 with a loss at New Jersey the following day.
Backup Jeff Zatkoff has started two of the three games against the Islanders this season, going 1-1-0 with a 3.53 goals-against average.
The Penguins are looking to win four regular-season games in a row in Uniondale for the first time since March 14, 1993-Feb. 9, 1995.
The Islanders looked like they could match goals with Pittsburgh at times in their first-round playoff series last spring, and they enter the finale of this season series averaging 3.69 goals while winning 10 of 13 games.
They scored 2.38 goals per game during their 11-21-7 start.
New York’s offense came up big again Tuesday, scoring four unanswered goals to rally for a 5-3 road win over the Rangers.
"Division games are huge this time of year. It’s nice to beat these guys," said captain John Tavares, who had three assists. "We did a good job … and finished off the game. Big win. Character win."
Tavares is second to Crosby with 62 points, and he’s scored 10 goals while setting up 14 others over the past 14 games.
He has four assists in three meetings with Pittsburgh this season, getting two on a pair of first-period goals by Kyle Okposo on Dec. 3, but has scored just once in his last 15 regular-season games in the series.
Tavares (11 goals, 17 assists), Crosby (10, 16) and Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux are the only three players with more points since Dec. 10 than Okposo (12, 13) and New York’s Thomas Vanek.
Vanek had the game-winning goal and an assist in Tuesday’s win, giving him nine scores and 16 assists in that productive stretch. He has 13 points during a nine-game streak against the Penguins dating to his time in Buffalo.