March 30, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) checks New York Islanders center Josh Bailey (12) during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Penguins to face Islanders in first round of Stanley Cup playoffs


It took one day longer than initially planned, but the Pittsburgh Penguins now know their first-round opponent in the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs.

By virtue of the Ottawa Senators’ 4-2 win at Boston on Sunday night, the Penguins will battle the New York Islanders as they begin their quest for the franchise’s fourth NHL title Wednesday night.

The regular season was scheduled to end Saturday night, but the Boston Marathon bombings of April 15 postponed that night’s Boston-Ottawa game. As a result, three of the Eastern Conference’s four first-round matchups hinged on Sunday’s outcome at TD Garden.

The Bruins rallied from 2-0 down to tie the game early in the third, but Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Kyle Turris scored goals in the final 3:34 to give the Senators a season-ending victory. With two points in hand, Ottawa hurdled the Islanders for the East’s No. 7 seed and will play Montreal in the first round.

The Penguins, who capped a 36-12-0 season with an 8-3 win over Carolina on Saturday night, will host Games 1 and 2 at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday and Friday, respectively. Pittsburgh has guaranteed home-ice advantage through the first three rounds of the playoffs because of their first-place finish in the conference.

The Penguins and the Islanders have met three previous times in the Stanley Cup playoffs, with each series taking the maximum number of games to decide. Pittsburgh has come up on the short end of the matchup all three times, starting in 1975 when New York became the second team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit.

In 1982, the Islanders came back in a winner-take-all opening-round Game 5 for an overtime victory, and they went on to claim their second of four straight Stanley Cups. 11 years later, New York shocked the President’s Trophy-winning Penguins in seven games, with David Volek scoring the sudden-death winner to silence the Civic Arena.

Looking at more recent (and relevant) vintage, the Penguins went 4-1 against the Islanders this season, outscoring them 16-9. New York finished at 24-17-7, 17 points behind Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division standings. While the Pens are making their seventh straight playoff appearance, the Isles haven’t advanced to the postseason since 2007.

Games 3 and 4 will be at Nassau Veterans Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., on Sunday and Tuesday, May 7. Sunday’s game will be at noon Eastern time on NBC, while the rest of the games will be either 7 or 7:30 p.m. starts on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh locally and NBC Sports Network nationally. If necessary, Game 5 is scheduled for Thursday, May 9 at Consol Energy Center, with venues alternating for Games 6 and 7 on May 11 and 12.

Because of Boston’s loss, Montreal won the Northeast Division and the No. 2 seed. Southeast champion Washington will face the sixth-seeded Rangers, the only series that was set before Saturday. Boston dropped into the No. 4 position and will have home ice against Toronto in the first round.

Find the full first-round NHL postseason schedule here, courtesy of NHL.com.

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Tags: 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs New York Islanders NHL Pittsburgh Penguins

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