Pittsburgh Penguins (18-9-1) at New York Islanders (8-15-4)
|Date & Time||Tuesday December 3, 2013, 7:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: New York Islanders +138 / Pittsburgh Penguins -152 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
In a weak Eastern Conference it's almost assured that the Pittsburgh Penguins will be playing in the post season this year. The return of James Neal to the lineup has given the Penguins the boost they were missing during their little rut but now Pittsburgh is clicking on all cylinders. The Penguins come into Tuesday night's game against the New York Islanders winners of three straight, having scored 14 goals over those victories. Saturday night in Florida it was backup goaltender Jeff Zatkoff who stole the show, despite the Penguins scoring five times. Zatkoff made 15 saves in the first period and the Penguins got goals from Chris Kunitz and Joe Vitale to lead 2-0 after a period in which they easily could have trailed by a couple of goals. Zatkoff could end up playing a bigger role than he ever imagined if Marc-Andre Fleury's playoff struggles continue, but for now he'll provide quality starts for a club that's going to make things easy on him by putting the puck in the net. Evgeni Malkin and James Neal scored second period goals and Jussi Jokinen added a goal in the third period as the Penguins cruised to a 5-1 win. Zatkoff finished the night with 39 saves. They'll travel to New York to take on an Islanders club that just can't find its way right now. Every game that the Islanders play is a desperation game, and every game they find a way to come up short. The Islanders aren't going to be in contention the second half of the season if they don't figure things out quickly, but it doesn't look like it's going to change any time soon. New York already made their big splash by acquiring Thomas Vanek who has done nothing to help the putrid defense and goaltending that's plauging the Islanders. It's now six straight losses for the Islanders and for a hockey club that can't keep the puck out of their net it's never a good thing when the Penguins come to town. It looks like the oddsmakers still think that the Islanders are bound to break out in a desperation game here because we get the Penguins at a pretty good number against a team they're clearly better than right now.