Impetus on Islanders to win at home vs. Thrashers
Saturday, 11.07.2009 / 7:00 PM
THRASHERS (6-5-1) at ISLANDERS (5-6-5)
Last 10 --
Atlanta 4-5-1; New York 5-3-2
Season series --
It's the first meeting of the season between the Eastern Conference rivals. Atlanta won three of the four games last season, including both trips to the Nassau Coliseum, where the Thrashers have split their 18 visits since entering the NHL in 1999.
Big story --
Going back on the road might be just what the Thrashers need to wash away the taste of Thursday night's 4-3 home loss to Columbus -- a game in which they paid for a batch of early defensive mistakes. It was the Thrashers' fifth loss in six home games -- but on the road, they're 5-1-1 and are coming off wins at Ottawa and Montreal.
The Islanders, who lost 2-1 at New Jersey on Friday, are playing their third game in four nights -- and their last home game until Nov. 25. After tonight, they play 12 of their next 14 away from the Coliseum, putting some added weight on winning this one. New York has dropped two in a row after winning four straight.
The Thrashers revamped their defense this summer by bringing in Pavel Kubina in a trade with Toronto. Thus far, they have to be pleased with the results. Kubina has 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 points in 12 games, has helped improve Atlanta's penalty-killing, and is the Thrashers' best defensive defenseman. His plus-6 rating is the best among Atlanta's defensemen.
But not even Kubina has an answer for the Thrashers' home woes.
"We've been talking about the slow starts for pretty much all the home games, but we’re still not [stopping them]," he said. “We’ve got to be mentally sharp for the first few shifts because that’s pretty much the difference the past four games."
The euphoria of four consecutive victories has worn off a bit with this week's back-to-back losses, in which New York has managed just one goal and only 24 shots in each contest. The Isles' penalty-killers have struggled, allowing three goals in the two losses.
"This was a game we could have won 1-0 and we gave them two opportunities and they took them,'' goaltender Martin Biron said of the loss to Jersey.
Who's hot --
Atlanta's Bryan Little and Kubina have goals in each of their last two games. Rich Peverley had an eight-game points streak ended when he didn't make the scoresheet against Columbus. … Dwayne Roloson, who has allowed five goals in winning his last three starts, will be in goal for the Islanders.
Injury report --
Atlanta is still without captain and top gun Ilya Kovalchuk, who's sidelined with a broken foot. Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek left the third period of Friday's game with a right leg injury.
Stat pack --
Atlanta has outshot the opposition just three times in 12 games -- and lost all three. … Atlanta is 4-0 when scoring first, 2-5-1 when the opposition gets the opening goal. Only Toronto, with one, has fewer first goals than the Thrashers.
Puck drop --
The Thrashers spent Friday night on Long Island waiting for the Isles to get back from New Jersey, so they'll be the better-rested team. With the prospect of spending most of the next month on the road, the Islanders figure to be desperate for a win.