Penguins Islanders Hockey
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Isles take on the Penguins, who have been a thorn in their side all season long.

The New York Islanders are notorious for their brick wall of a defense, which is one of the best in the league. However, they gave up six goals for just the second time all season on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins have won five of their seven matchups against the Islanders. The Islanders will look to prevent them from taking yet another game on Monday, when they’ll be facing the Penguins for the final time this season.

Pittsburgh’s Jason Zucker would return to the ice after missing 18 straight with a lower-body injury.

Ross Johnston would return to the lineup for the first time since Jan. 28, sliding in alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom. Anthony Beauvillier would be back on a line with Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey.

Semyon Varlamov gets the start in net.

1st period: Stay out of the box!

Penalties were a problem for the Islanders in their 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday, and it looks like that’s carried over to Monday’s game.

Johnston made his return known by committing a penalty early on, something that would prove to be detrimental to his team.

The Islanders had a short-handed scoring chance, but Nelson missed the net and the Penguins scored somewhat of a fluke goal shortly after.

The Islanders got themselves into even more penalty trouble to end the period. A Leo Komarov penalty was followed by a roughing penalty on Kris Letang, but the four-on-four wouldn’t do the Islanders any good.

The Penguins took advantage of a poorly-timed line change by New York to make it a 2-0 game coming out of the first.

The Islanders outhit the Penguins significantly, but hits don’t translate to goals. This marks the first time all season that the Islanders have conceded multiple goals in the first period of back-to-back games.

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2nd period: Martin ON THE PP?!

The Islanders were much better in the second and would’ve at least tied the game had Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith, who entered the game in the second period in relief of Tristan Jarry, not been as sharp.

They created many more offensive chances, one of which became a goal. Matt Martin, of all people, deflected a Mathew Barzal shot into the net for his second career power play goal. The offense he’s been providing this season has been great.

The Islanders would have to keep up the momentum in the third while preventing the Penguins from scoring.

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3rd period: Not enough

The Islanders were able to keep the pressure in the third while maintaining the physicality they’d played with in the opening 40 minutes of the game and keeping the Penguins off the board.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough. The Penguins held their own in their own zone and DeSmith came up with some more big saves to keep the score as is.

The Islanders still have a problem generating offense, something that Barry Trotz is going to have to figure out by continuing to tinker with the lines. The organization will almost certainly be active at the trade deadline. Anders Lee is missed.

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Key Moment: First period

The entire first period was the key moment of the game for the Islanders. Poor play all around resulted in the Penguins taking a 2-0 lead and while they improved as the game progressed and did score, the Islanders weren’t able to come all the way back.

A lack of discipline has been a problem for them, especially against the Penguins, and that was the case in the first, as well. They gave up two goals and weren’t able to generate any offense, something that has been a problem of them.

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Player of the game: Matt Martin

Matt Martin does it again. The Islanders are looking to get some offense going, but they’re getting what they expected and more from Martin. Having those fourth liners come up with big goals especially in special teams situations is huge.

The depth that the Islanders have because of players like Martin is what makes this team so great.

Martin’s numbers: 12:12 TOI, 1 G, 55.56 CF%, 0.43 iXG, 1 block, 0.44 xGF, 0.13 xGA, 0 GF, 0 GA, 1.43 Game Score, 0.6 defensive rating, -0.21 offensive rating, and 1.04 individual rating.

Stats are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and Hockey Stat Cards.

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