New York Islanders
7:00 p.m., Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
This is going to be one hell of a game. Coming into the series not a lot of people really took the Islanders all that serious. They were coming in as the eight seed as for the last number of years they have really been the laughing stock of the NHL. Well, after getting embarrassed in the first game of the series the Islanders have actually outplayed the Penguins for much of the next two. They were the better 5-on-5 team on Sunday and if it weren't for them taking way too many penalties they probably would be up 2-1.
Instead it was Sidney Crosby who stepped up to lead the Penguins as he was dominant yet again and set up three goals which included the game winning goal in overtime. Nothing the Islanders have been able to do has seemed to slow him down and you only expect him to get better as he is only two games back after missing the final month of the season.
If the Penguins are going to win the game and go up 3-1 then they are going to have to play much better defense. For as good as they were in the regular season they have been dreadfully bad during stretches of the playoffs including some bad games from consistent performers like Matt Niskanen and Kris Letang. They are turning the puck over and that is playing right into the Islanders hands as they thrive when they can get the puck in transition and use their speed to create chances.
The Penguins are just going to have to play their game. They are the more talented team but that isn't always showing up thanks to the Islanders upping the pace and the Penguins feeling like they have to match them. On Sunday when the Penguins were successful they were able to slow the game down and make the simple plays and it turned into four unanswered goals after being down 2-0 at the start. The Islanders have looked good but if the Penguins can get back to the defensive game they were playing during almost the entire regular season then it should limit the chances that the Islanders get.
In some ways this is going to be a much bigger game for the Islanders than it is for the Penguins. If the Penguins go up 3-1 that could very well be the series. With as bad as the Pens have played in the last two games they lost game two on a late goal and won game three. So playing some pretty horrible hockey they were in both games till the bitter end. At that rate the Islanders have very little probability of winning three straight games against the Penguins. If the Islanders come out and get a win and the series is tied at two then it is any ones ballgame and the Islanders will have unlimited confidence knowing that they [probably] have outplayed the top seed in three of the four games they've played.
It looks as if both Brooks Orpik and James Neal will be in the lineup today. While the Penguins do not give out lineup or injury information during the playoffs they were both at the morning skate and both skating with their regular respective lines and not with the scratches. Neal was also on the top power play unit at the skate which is usually a pretty good indicator that he will be playing. Those two are going to be huge boosts to the lineup.
Pittsburgh (2-1 in playoffs) (via Penguins website)
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Jarome Iginla - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Matt Cooke- Brandon Sutter - Tyler Kennedy
Craig Adams - Jussi Jokinen - Tanner Glass
Brooks Orpik - Paul Martin
Mark Eaton - Kris Letang
Matt Niskanen - Douglas Murray
NY Islanders (1-2 in playoffs) (via Islanders website)
Josh Bailey - John Tavares - Brad Boyes
Matt Moulson - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
David Ullstrom - Keith Aucoin - Colin McDonald
Michael Grabner - Casey Cizikas - Matt Martin
Travis Hamonic - Andrew MacDonald
Lubomir Visnovsky - Brian Strait
Mark Streit - Matt Carkner
The Series (Pittsburgh leads 2-1)
May 5, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, NY Islanders 4 (OT)
May 3, 2013 - NY Islanders 4, Pittsburgh 3
May 1, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, NY Islanders 0