Isles look to make it four in a row
Monday, 11.02.2009 / 7:00 PM
OILERS (7-6-1) at ISLANDERS (4-4-5)
: Edmonton 5-5-0; New York 4-4-2.
: This is the lone meeting between the teams this season. Edmonton earned a 3-2 victory against the Isles on Jan. 5 at Rexall Place. Andrew Cogliano scored the game-winner midway through the third period.
: Jeff Tambellini scored three goals on Saturday night to lead the Islanders to a 5-0 victory against Buffalo on Long Island. Now, he gets to face his father's team. Steve Tambellini is the GM of the Oilers.
: Edmonton has struggled on the road this season, and that's not a good sign for a team that will play 12 of its next 18 games in arenas not named Rexall Place. The Oilers have only won once in five tries on the road thus far.
What's worse, the Oilers are experiencing a tremendous amount of difficulty scoring goals. With Saturday's 2-0 loss at Boston, Edmonton has been blanked in three of its last four games.
"Our last three road games, we've seen our team start well," Oilers coach Pat Quinn said. "The way we're getting scored on right in front of our doorstep is driving me nuts. You think you're getting it fixed up, but they walk in off the boards. We've got all kinds of excuses, but no solutions to it yet. It keeps happening."
: New York has looked like a different team over the past week, earning victories against the Rangers, Capitals and Sabres over a four-day span. Despite losing their first six games of the season, the Isles have managed to tally points in nine of their first 13 contests.
"I think everybody is starting to understand each other a bit better," Isles goalie Martin Biron said. "There are guys who are trying to get different roles and fit in different ways. I think that we're seeing guys step up every night."
: Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin
has done everything he can to keep his anemic offense in games. In 12 starts, the free-agent pickup is 6-5-1 with a 3.12 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage. Right wing Dustin Penner has 19 points (9 goals, 10 assists) in 14 games.
For the Islanders, forward Jeff Tambellini is finally showing signs of being the player the team hopes he can be. Tambellini -- a prolific AHL scorer who has struggled at the sport's top level -- notched his first NHL hat trick on Saturday and is suddenly tied for the team lead with six goals. All have come during the Isles' three-game winning streak.
: Oilers center Mike Comrie and defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky are day-to-day with the flu, while center Ryan Stone is out 1-2 weeks with a knee injury. Long-term injuries for the Oilers include Marc Pouliot (sports hernia, 8-10 weeks), and defensemen Sheldon Souray and Steve Staios (concussions, out indefinitely).
The Islanders continue to be without No. 1 goalie Rick DiPietro
, who is still working his way back from knee and hip injuries. Right wing Trent Hunter has a torn pectoral muscle and is expected to miss another 10-14 days.
: Oilers forward Shawn Horcoff
has just two points in 12 games. He and linemates Ales Hemsky
and Penner managed only two shots on goal against the Bruins. … Richard Park opened the scoring for the Isles on Saturday for his first goal of the season. … Biron's win against the Sabres was the 200th of his career and his 26th shutout.
: This is a textbook matchup of two teams that seem to be headed in opposite directions. Edmonton's recent struggles have them just one game above the .500 mark, while the Isles' surge now has them at 4-4-5 as they've averaged four goals per game during the streak.
-- Brian Compton, NHL.com