(SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to bounce back from just their second loss of the season when they welcome the New York Islanders for Friday's battle at CONSOL Energy Center.
Pittsburgh has a stout 7-2-0 record on the season and was riding a four-game win streak before getting blanked Monday by the visiting Colorado Avalanche.
Perhaps the season debut of star defenseman Kris Letang can help the club get back in the win column on Friday. Letang has missed all nine games this season while recovering from a knee injury, but Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said he is "likely" to play tonight.
Letang was a finalist for the Norris Trophy during last season's lockout- shortened campaign. He recorded 38 points on three goals and 35 assists in 35 contests last season.
The Pens, who are averaging 3.33 goals per game, were shut out for the first time in 2013-14, dropping a 1-0 decision to the Avalanche, who remained unbeaten in five road games this season. Jean-Sebastien Giguere held down the fort for Colorado on Monday, stopping 34 shots to record the shutout against perhaps the league's best offensive team. Gabriel Landeskog scored the game's only goal for the Avs.
Pittsburgh fired 16 shots on net in the third period alone, but could not solve Giguere, who made a terrific glove save to rob Chris Kunitz on a breakaway in the final stanza.
Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 13 shots and suffered his first loss in eight games this year. The Penguins, who went 0-for-7 on the power play, had their season-opening win streak at home end at five games.
"It was quiet for most of the night and the guys played great," said Fleury. "They didn't get much on us tonight, but that goal was unfortunate."
The shutout loss halted Sidney Crosby's season-opening point streak at eight games. Crosby has seven goals and a league-leading 17 points on the season and has recorded a whopping 75 points (20G, 55A) in 41 career games versus the Islanders.
The Pens are closing a three-game homestand on Friday before visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow night.
The struggling Islanders enter Friday having dropped two straight and five of their last six games. The 1-3-2 stretch comes after New York began the season with a 2-0-1 mark in its first three games.
New York was able to record a point in its most recent defeat, losing a 5-4 overtime decision Tuesday against the visiting Vancouver Canucks. Brad Richardson's game-winner went in off an opponent's stick 2:16 into the extra session, giving Vancouver the extra point.
The Isles lost after coughing up leads of 2-0 and 3-2, but a game-tying goal by Frans Nielsen with 1:12 left in regulation allowed New York to gain a point.
Evgeni Nabokov was tagged for five goals on 33 shots in the loss, while Matt Moulson led the Islanders offense with a pair of goals.
"I give them credit -- they got pucks to the net and got rebounds. There was nothing special to their goals," said Islanders coach Jack Capuano.
New York ended a recent four-game homestand with a 1-1-2 record and history says things won't get any easier tonight. The Penguins have won 15 of the last 17 regular-season home games against the Isles and also claimed two of three encounters at CONSOL Energy Center in last spring's playoff series. Pittsburgh ousted the Isles in six games in the opening round of the 2013 playoffs.
The Pens have won nine of the past 12 regular-season battles in this series.
Nabokov has solid career numbers against Pittsburgh, going 10-6-0 with a 2.13 goals against average against the Pens. Fleury is 18-7-3 with a tie and a 2.54 GAA in 31 career outings against the Islanders.