The struggling New York Islanders (7-10-3) look to turn things around tonight with Evgeni Nabokov in goal against the visiting Detroit Red Wings (9-5-6). The Red Wings, now a new Eastern Conference opponent due to the alignment change, are facing the Isles for the first time this season after a 4-3 shootout loss last night to the Washington Capitals.
The Isles, who once sat second in the Metropolitan Division, currently sit in 6th, five points behind the second place Capitals and three points behind the third place Carolina Hurricanes.
An inability to hold gain leads and/or hold them has propelled the Islanders to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings (12th in the East) and has allowed their division rivals to surpass them.
The Islanders found themselves floundering after a stretch of poor losses. Nothing erases the bad taste of defeat like consecutive wins. Behind the pads of Kevin Poulin, they took the ice looking to add another win to their record. After four frustrating losses, the Isles' righted the ship against a tough foe. It didn't matter who they were playing, they needed a win. But defeating the Nashville Predators really seemed to ease the nervousness among fans and players.
That loose style was carried over into Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Kings. The Islanders battled hard and rallied around Kevin Poulin's strong effort in net. Although, the Islanders went scoreless in the first, they held the high powered Kings in check.
After a winless road trip, the Islanders returned home to Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday night for their second and final meeting of the season with the Nashville Predators. The first meeting was a Predators 3-2 victory last month. Tonight a different story as the Islanders snapped their 4 game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the Predators on home ice.
New York’s struggles haven’t been confined to the current trip. Despite beating a good Boston team at home last week, the Isles are 3-6-1 in their last ten. This has dropped them from second in the division to fifth, and they’ve fallen to 11th in the conference. (Photo credit: kwong yee cheng/flikr)
In this context, these two points loom a bit larger. And, the Islanders will have to earn the win without newly acquired Thomas Vanek who was hurt in last night’s loss to the Blue Jackets in Columbus.
The New York Islanders returned home tonight to face the Boston Bruins, looking to build on last night's 5-4 win over the Ottawa Senators. And they did just that, defeating Boston by a score of 3-1 led by Kyle Okposo's three assists, strong goaltending from Kevin Poulin and Thomas Vanek notching his first goal as an Islanders forward.
The game was played in front of a packed Nassau Coliseum crowd, featuring both Isles and Bruins fans. In fact, the fans from Boston were loud, often and early. But the Islanders faithful would respond, letting the visiting fans know that they weren't exactly welcome at the old barn.
Can the Isles contain the Bruins? Boston is middle of the pack in the NHL for goal scoring, but the Islanders, at least so far, are one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Tonight will definitely be a challenge for the boys in blue.
The challenge will not only be in their own zone but also in Boston’s end of the rink as Boston is boasting a team goals against average of 1.83 so far this season. It will be important for the Islanders to press the Bruins backup netminder and continue last night’s puck barrage.