The Pittsburgh Penguins will be trying to stave off elimination when they host the New York Islanders for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference first-round series on Tuesday night. New York took the first two contests at home and then extended its lead by prevailing in Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Penguins have not lost in the opening round since 2014-15 and have not been swept at any point since 2012-13.
The Islanders are on a roll, having taken a commanding lead in this series by beating Pittsburgh 4-1 in Game 3 on Sunday. Jordan Eberle answered just 28 seconds after Wilson’s tally in the first period in Game 3 to become the first Islander to open the playoffs with three goals in as many games since Ray Ferraro (1993 versus Washington).
“It’s been the storyline for the last couple of games: they score and we come back,” Eberle noted. “Playoffs are all about momentum. When you can take some teams [momentum] away and continue to build yours, it’s key.”
Goalie Robin Lehner went into this series with 49 minutes of playoff action accumulated in a relief role with Ottawa in 2013, but the 27-year-old Swede has looked at ease against Pittsburgh by stopping 98 of 103 shots.
“We work for each other and care for each other and play as a group. I feel calm in the net right now,” Lehner commented.
Season on the brink
Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby has generally tormented the Islanders throughout his decorated career, but the two-time Hart Trophy recipient has been held without a point on six shots while recording a minus-4 rating in this Eastern Conference first-round series. Crosby looks to help the Pittsburgh avoid a sweep when they host the Islanders in Game 4 on Tuesday.
“It’s not the position that you want to be in, but I would love to be a part of a team that comes back from that,” Crosby said following Sunday’s setback that put Pittsburgh in its first 3-0 hole since the 2013 Eastern Conference final against Boston.
The Penguins’ sixth-ranked offense has been limited to the first career postseason goals for defensemen Erik Gudbranson and Garrett Wilson over the last two games. Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and defenseman Kris Letang are the lone remaining members of the last Pittsburgh team that trailed 3-0 in a series. Malkin has recorded a goal and two assists in the series to join defenseman Justin Schultz with a team-leading three points, while Letang assisted on a third-period goal in Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime loss in Game 1.
The Pittsburgh Penguins:
- 0-4 in their last four overall
- 0-4 in their last four games against the Eastern Conference
- 0-4 in their last four games against the Metropolitan Division
The New York Islanders:
- 37-18 in their last 55 overall
- 4-0 in their last four road games
- 5-0 in their last five games against the Eastern Conference