(SportsNetwork.com) – The New York Islanders have slowed down considerably
since the last time they faced the San Jose Sharks and the Isles hope to halt
a two-game slide on Saturday when they visit SAP Center.
Tonight’s test will complete the season series between the Islanders and
Sharks. New York recorded a 4-3 shootout victory over a visiting San Jose team
on Oct. 16 with John Tavares providing the winning score in the fifth round of
the decisive phase.
However, things have not gone well for the Isles since that victory, which was
New York’s fourth straight to begin the season. Jack Capuano’s club has gone
2-4-0 since beating the Sharks and enters Saturday’s rematch on a two-game
New York’s most recent setback was Thursday’s 5-0 loss at Colorado. Despite
getting blown out on the scoreboard, the Islanders were active offensively
and outshot the Avalanche by a 40-23 margin. Semyon Varlamov was up to the
challenge, however, turning aside all 40 shots sent his way.
Chad Johnson was on the hook for all five goals on 23 shots for the Islanders,
who failed to score on six power-play chances in the loss.
“We started really well tonight, we dominated play early,” Capuano said. “We
have to start scoring three or four goals to win in this league.”
New York has played the last four games without Travis Hamonic, but the
defenseman is expected to return from an upper-body injury tonight. Hamonic
has one goal in six tests this season and is averaging 20 minutes, 33 seconds
of ice time per game.
The Isles are playing the second part of a three-game road trip tonight and
are scheduled to close the set Wednesday at Anaheim. New York owns identical
3-2-0 records at home and on the road this season.
Although the club’s earlier loss versus the Isles began a stretch of five
losses in six games, the Sharks enter Saturday riding a three-game point
streak. San Jose went 2-0-1 on a three-game road trip, beating Anaheim and
Colorado before dropping Thursday’s 4-3 shootout decision in Minnesota.
The Sharks went ahead 2-0 against the Wild in the first period and held a 3-1
lead when Joe Thornton scored just 1:37 into the third stanza. However, Kyle
Brodziak tallied twice later in the third to even the score for Minnesota and
Jason Pominville provided the game-winner in the shootout.
Even at one goal apiece after two shootout rounds, Pominville went in slow and
wristed a shot past Antti Niemi’s glove. Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper then
stoned Patrick Marleau for the win.
Mirco Mueller and Tommy Wingels joined Thornton as the goal-scorers for San
Jose, while Niemi turned aside 43 shots in a losing effort.
“We wanted the extra point and it’s disappointing when you give that up,” said
Thornton. “I thought that we played a pretty good game tonight, though.”
Sharks enforcer John Scott is eligible to return tonight after sitting out the
last two games while serving a suspension. Scott received the ban for coming
onto the ice and immediately starting a fight with Anaheim’s Tim Jackman.
Although Scott entered the ice during a legal change it was deemed he made no
effort to play the puck before challenging Jackman.
The Isles have won two of the last three meetings with San Jose, but the
Sharks still own seven victories over the past 10 encounters. New York had
lost four straight at the Shark Tank before earning a shootout win over the
Sharks on Dec. 10 of last season.
San Jose will try for just its second home win of the season tonight. The
Sharks are 1-2-0 as the host and 5-2-2 on the road.