Washington Capitals (18-11-6) at New York Islanders (23-11-1), 7 p.m. (ET)

(SportsNetwork.com) – The New York Islanders will try to avoid losing a season
high-tying third straight game for the second time this month on Monday night
as they play host to the surging Washington Capitals.

The Islanders have surprised many this season as they sit second in the
Metropolitan Division with 47 points, two back of the first-place Pittsburgh
Penguins. They dropped three straight in regulation for the second time this
season from Dec. 6-11, but responded with four victories in a row.

That positive stretch was halted with a loss to Montreal on Dec. 23 and the
Isles came out of the Christmas break with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Buffalo
Sabres on Saturday.

It wasn’t an encouraging setback despite the point as New York took a 3-0 lead
into the third period, but allowed Buffalo to score three times in a 5:12 span
to force extra time. The Sabres’ Tyler Ennis then had the lone goal of the
shootout, beating Kevin Poulin in the second round.

John Tavares scored twice and defenseman Nick Leddy once for the Islanders,
while Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo had two assists each.

New York had won each of its first nine games this season that went past
regulation.

“I thought we controlled most of the game,” Tavares said. “We had
opportunities, we just didn’t capitalize.”

Poulin finished with 23 saves after getting recalled from the minors on
Saturday with Jaroslav Halak missing a second game in a row with a lower-body
injury. Poulin got the start over backup Chad Johnson.

Halak, though, came off of injured reserve on Sunday, one day after getting
placed on IR, and could return to action tonight.

“He had a real good practice here today and he seems to be ready to go for
us,” Isles head coach Jack Capuano told his team’s website on Sunday. “If
things go well there’s a great chance that he could be back in.”

Halak is 5-4-0 in his career when facing the Capitals, logging a 2.65 goals
against average and .897 save percentage.

The Isles, who begin a seven-game road trip on Wednesday, will try to slow
down a Capitals team that has points in 10 of its last 11 (8-1-2). The lone
regulation loss of that span came last Tuesday versus the New York Rangers,
but Washington rebounded to shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Saturday.

Eric Fehr scored twice and Marcus Johansson also lit the lamp.

Braden Holtby extended his excellent month with 31 saves for his second
shutout in four games and third of the season. He is 8-2-2 in December with a
1.98 GAA and .933 save percentage.

“He’s been really instrumental, basically this whole month,” said Capitals
coach Barry Trotz said of his goaltender.

Though none of his 13 career shutout have come versus the Islanders, Holtby is
still an excellent 6-1-1 against them with a 2.06 GAA and .937 save
percentage.

The Capitals are 5-1-1 in their last seven versus the Islanders and have won
nine of the previous 12 meetings at home.