(SportsNetwork.com) – The New York Islanders hope to extend their current
winning streak on Saturday night as they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning for
the final time this regular season.
The Islanders pushed their winning streak to three in a row with last night’s
2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Jaroslav Halak made 17 saves and
Anders Lee netted the winning goal midway through the second period.
Brock Nelson added his team-leading 14th goal of the season and also had an
assist for New York, which had lost three in a row prior to this winning
Friday’s solid defensive showing came on the same day that blueliners Travis
Hamonic and Johnny Boychuk were activated off injured reserve. Hamonic had
missed six straight games and Boychuk nine in a row with upper-body injuries.
“We’re fortunate in certain ways,” Isles head coach Jack Capuano said. “Some
teams we struggle with. Obviously, they’re a good hockey club. Not saying that
we have their number, but any time you play them, you know that you have to be
at your best and have guys step up to the occasion.”
The Lightning are closing out a five-game road trip and they fell to 1-2-1 on
the swing with Friday’s shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils. Patrik Elias
netted the lone shootout tally as the Devils recorded a 3-2 win.
Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov supplied goals for the Lightning, who have
dropped five of their last seven. Evgeni Nabokov made 16 saves and Ryan
Callahan had a pair of assists.
“We earned it,” Callahan said of the point for playing beyond regulation.
“Shootouts are a crap shoot, but they’re very important points.”
Tampa Bay was without talented forward Tyler Johnson, who had a sting of 115
consecutive games played halted due to the flu. He is second to only Stamkos
on the Lightning with 33 points.
With No. 1 netminder Ben Bishop out with a lower-body injury, former 2012
first-round pick Andrei Vasilevskiy could start for the Lightning tonight. He
won his NHL debut on Tuesday at Philadelphia, stopping 23-of-24 shots faced.
Halak, meanwhile, is 3-2-0 in five meetings with the Lightning, posting a 2.64
goals against average and .899 save percentage. Backup Chad Johnson lost the
only time he faced the Bolts, yielding five goals on 28 shots.
These two clubs have split the first two of three meetings this season, with
each team earning a win at home. The Islanders’ 5-2 triumph on Nov. 18 was
their sixth in the past seven at home versus the Bolts.