3 keys: Islanders at Penguins, first round match 1
Evgeni malkin will be a game-time decision for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they face the New York Islanders in Game One of the Stanley Cup First Round at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday.
The center trained on Saturday, but did not take a rush line or participate in power play drills. Jeff Carter took Malkin’s place in the second row and Jared mccann replaced it on the upper power play unit.
Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov practiced on Saturday and will probably start the first game.
Varlamov missed practice Wednesday and Thursday after suffering “a little bit of tension” in New York’s regular season finale, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins on Monday. He skated with the taxi team on Friday.
The Islanders and Penguins meet in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second time in three seasons. New York swept Pittsburgh in the first round of the 2019 Eastern Conference.
The Penguins, who were 6-2-0 against the Islanders this season, have won nine of their last 11 regular season games to clinch the No. 1 seed in the MassMutual East Division.
The Islanders have lost four of their last five regular season games.
The teams that win Game 1 are 490-222 (68.8 percent) winning an NHL best-of-7 playoff series, including 7-1 in the first round last season.
Here are 3 keys for game 1:
1. Malkin’s health
Malkin has collected four assists in four games since returning from a lower body injury that caused him to miss 23 games. He did not play in the 8:48 final of the Pittsburgh regular season final against the Buffalo Sabers on May 8 after thinking he had changed something.
“I think he’s working the whole process,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s trying to capture his best game. He’s working on it every game.”
If Malkin is unable to play, Carter would likely cross the second row with McCann on the left wing and Kasperi Kapanen on the right wing. Carter has scored nine goals in 14 games, including five in his last two, since his acquisition in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings on April 12.
2. Varlamov v Jarry
If there is one notable advantage for the Islanders, it might be in the net. Among goaltenders who have played at least 25 games this season, Varlamov led the NHL with a .929 save percentage, was tied with Philipp grubauer Colorado Avalanche for most shutouts with seven, and was third with a 2.04 goals-against average.
But one team that was able to solve Varlamov was the Penguins. In seven games against Pittsburgh, Varlamov went 1-3-2 with a GAA of 2.86 and save percentage of 0.897.
Tristan Jarry, who did not play against the Sabers with an upper-body injury, is set to make his second NHL playoff start for Pittsburgh. He allowed one goal on 21 shots on his debut, a 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens who knocked out the Penguins in Game 4 of the 2020 Stanley Cup qualifying.
In 39 games this season (38 starts), Jarry is 25-9-3 with a 2.75 GAA, .909 save percentage and two shutouts.
3. Defense of the islanders
The Islanders have allowed 2.23 goals per game this season, which was second in the NHL behind the Vegas Golden Knights (2.18), but they’ve given up at least three goals in six of their eight games against the Penguins.
New York will look to recapture the success it had against Pittsburgh in the 2019 playoffs, when he allowed six goals in four games.
“We played them a lot”, the Islanders defenseman Scott mayfield mentionned. “We know what to expect, whether it’s playing them in the playoffs a few years ago or just the eight times we’ve seen them this season. They have a lot of offensive power that we’re going to have to control. ”
Islanders’ planned programming
Leo komarov – Mathew Barzal – Jordan eberle
Anthony Beauvillier – Brock Nelson – Josh bailey
Kyle palmieri – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Oliver wahlstrom
Matt martin – Casey cizikas – Cal clutterbuck
Adam pelech – Ryan pulock
Nick leddy – Scott Mayfield
Andy Greene – Noah dobson
Striped: Michael Dal Colle, Ross johnston, Travis Zajac, Braydon Coburn, Cory schneider
Injured: Anders lee (knee)
Projected penguin programming
Jake guentzel – Sidney crosby – Bryan rust
Jason zucker – Evgeni malkin – Kasperi Kapanen
Jared McCann – Jeff Carter – Frédéric Gaudreau
Zach Aston-Reese – Teddy Blueger – Brandon tanev
Brian Dumoulin – Kris Letang
Mike Matheson – Cody This
Marcus Pettersson – John marino
Striped: Evan Rodrigues, Chad Ruhwedel, Mark Friedman, Juuso riikola, Colton Sceviour, Sam lafferty, Mark Jankowski, Radim Zohorna
Injured: Casey DeSmith (lower body)
Pittsburgh backup goaltender DeSmith will not be available after worsening a lower body injury during practice Friday.