The New York Islanders haven't had much success since their glory days of the early 1980s. The 2008-09 team, however, appears headed for one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
The Islanders hope to avoid their first 11-game losing streak in nearly 13 years Friday night when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nassau Coliseum.
Since they were denied a fifth straight Stanley Cup by Edmonton in 1983-84, the Islanders have advanced as far as Eastern Conference finals only once - in 1992-93 - the last time they won a round in the playoffs. New York has failed to reach the postseason in nine of the last 13 years, compiling a 6-16 playoff record during that span.
A playoff spot in 2008-09 seems highly unlikely for the Islanders (10-21-3), who have a league-low 23 points and are 0-9-1 in December since a 4-2 win over Ottawa on Nov. 29.
The 10-game skid is New York's longest since it dropped 11 straight from March 16-April 5, 1996. The longest losing streak in team history is 12, accomplished twice and most recently during the 1988-89 season.
Andy Hilbert and Sean Bergenheim scored for the Islanders in a 4-2 loss to visiting Atlanta on Tuesday.
Captain Bill Guerin said as long as the Islanders stay positive and work hard, things will get better.
"Our last two losses were tight games," Guerin said of losses to Atlanta and Nashville. "We have to stay loose and stay ready to work. Our biggest asset is our work ethic. We don't come in and mope around. We keep it loose, and we keep focused."
Injuries have played a big role in the Islanders' woes.
Leading scorer Doug Weight (29 points) sat out Tuesday with a groin injury while defensemen Radek Martinek (shoulder) and Andy Sutton (foot), centers Mike Sillinger (groin) and Frans Nielsen (leg) and No. 1 goaltender Rick DiPietro (knee) remain sidelined.
New York has allowed an NHL-worst 124 goals while averaging a dismal 2.38 goals - a total better than only Tampa Bay (2.21).
Toronto (14-14-6) has also struggled in its own end, yielding 122 goals following an 8-2 home loss to Dallas on Tuesday.
The Maple Leafs had won five of six before the Stars took control with four first-period goals, three coming before Toronto even registered a shot on net.
Playing for the fourth time in six nights, the Leafs looked sluggish in the defensive zone.
"We didn't have our legs, we didn't have our mind to be able to play a shutdown game," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "Unfortunately, it got ugly."
Vesa Toskala was pulled midway through the second period in favor of Curtis Joseph after allowing seven goals on 27 shots.
"He didn't have a chance on any of those goals," Wilson said of Toskala. "I don't think it was fair that the fans got on him, if that was their intention."
Wilson could come right back with Toskala, who is 2-1-0 with a 2.36 goals-against average in three career starts versus the Islanders. Another option is to start rookie Justin Pogge, who made 19 saves to win his NHL debut, 6-2 over Atlanta on Monday.
Jason Blake had a goal and two assists against his former team in Toronto's 4-2 victory over the Islanders at Air Canada Centre on Dec. 8.
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