- Katie Strang, ESPN.com
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What it means: The Islanders dropped their third straight in an 3-0 loss to the Atlantic Division-leading Penguins, who improved to 7-2-2 with their fourth consecutive win. Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was spectacular in blanking the Islanders for his 20th career shutout .The Islanders, who suffered their second shutout loss of the season, must try to right the ship Thursday when they finish a home-and-home set against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
Malkin returns: Center Evgeni Malkin returned to the Penguins’ lineup for the first time since October 13. Malkin, who missed the past five games with soreness in his surgically-repaired right knee, had 3 shots on goal while playing on a line with James Neal and Steve Sullivan.
No secondary scoring: The Islanders first line has combined for 10 of the team’s 14 goals over the last seven games and have received little help offensively. Last year’s dangerous tandem of Calder Trophy finalist Michael Grabner and Frans Nielsen have combined for only three goals and their linemate Kyle Okposo is still without his first of the season. And the drop-off worsens from there. Besides Brian Rolston, who has two assists, no other forward on the team’s third or fourth line has recorded a point this season.
Cooler heads prevail: Neither team had interest in re-visiting the debacle last February, a 9-3 Islanders win that featured a franchise record-setting 346 penalty minutes, 15 fighting majors and 11 game misconducts. In the second meeting of the two teams since, there was little time spent in the box and not a single fight. Both teams combined for only five penalties in total.
Flower Power: Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury earned his first shutout of the season, stoning the Islanders on all 33 shots.
'Nother loss for Nabokov: Evgeni Nabokov took a loss in his second consecutive start after giving up 2 goals on 28 shots last night. He entered Tuesday’s contest with an outstanding 8-1-0 career record against the Penguins, with a 1.62 goals against average and a .939 save percentage.
Ex-Isle’d: Former Islander Richard Park gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead 21 seconds into the second period, faking a shot before beating Nabokov stick-side. Park, who played for the Islanders from 2006-10, signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Penguins this September after spending a year playing in Switzerland.
No point for you: Tuesday was the first time in the last eight games the Islanders have hosted the Penguins at Nassau Coliseum that they did not come away with at least a point.
Up Next: Islanders at Penguins, October 27 at 7 p.m.
35dPierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald