The Islanders can move back into a playoff spot with wins over the weekend, and that starts on Friday in Pittsburgh.
The Islanders will face their Steel City rivals for the final time in the regular season with the first of two important points on the line at PPG Paints Arena. The Islanders are just two points back of the final wild card spot, which is currently occupied by the Boston Bruins. A win would pull them even with the Bruins heading into Saturday’s showdown with Boston in Brooklyn.
The Islanders won their most recent meeting with the Penguins back in November by a 5-3 score, but New York is 1-1-1 this season against Pittsburgh. The Penguins are unbeaten in their last four games (3-0-1), but are on the tail end of a back-to-back which could benefit the Islanders.
New York will see some changes to the lineup for Friday’s game in Pittsburgh, the biggest being the return of Jaroslav Halak between the pipes. Halak was called up on Thursday and will make his first NHL start since December 29 in Minnesota.
“I’m happy to be back,” Halak told the team website on Thursday. “I’m just going to try to help the guys and we’ll see what happens. I know we’ve got a crazy schedule coming up and any point is valuable for getting to the playoffs.”
The Penguins did not have a morning skate, so their lineup will not be known until closer to game time.