Confident Islanders ready to face Wild
Friday, 11.20.2009 / 7:00 PM
ISLANDERS (8-6-7) at WILD (7-12-2)
Last 10 –
New York 6-2-2; Minnesota 4-4-2
Season series --
It's the only meeting of the season between the teams, and just the 11th time they've played since Minnesota entered the NHL in 2000. The Wild have won seven of the first 10, including the last four. Minnesota beat the Islanders twice last season -- 4-2 at home and 6-2 at the Nassau Coliseum.
Big story --
The Islanders, one of the NHL's most offensively challenged teams over the past couple of seasons, have been scoring in bunches. They've produced four or more goals in five consecutive games -- their longest such streak since December 1993 -- and are off to a far better start than anyone could have expected. Their biggest problem has been holding leads -- the Isles have blown multi-goal leads six times already this season.
The Wild continue to be plagued by inconsistency and a lack of offense. They lost 3-2 at home to Phoenix on Wednesday in a game that saw Minnesota twice tie the game in the third period, only to allow the Coyotes to go back in front. Scottie Upshall's game-winner came 19 seconds after Antti Miettinen tied the game for the Wild.
The Islanders are 2-0-2 on a seven-game road trip, but had three days to go home and rest after Monday's 4-1 win at Boston -- their fourth game in six days. With a 7-2-2 mark after a 1-4-5 start, there's a palpable feeling of confidence growing on the Island.
"There's a confidence in the room now that if we play our game we're going to have success," coach Scott Gordon said. "We've played four games in six days and from my side it's good to see, with the little practice time we've had, we haven't gotten off our game plan. It's very encouraging."
The scoreboard said Wednesday's game was a 3-2 loss, but Minnesota coach Todd Richards saw little that he liked in his team's performance.
"This is probably our poorest, I think, performance of the year," the first-year coach said. "We had spurts in the third period. They pretty much controlled and dictated everything going on in the first period, and I would say a good portion of the second."
Minnesota is 0-2-2 in its last four games after winning four of five.
Who's hot -- Matt Moulson
, picked up as a minor-league free agent this summer, has thrived on Long Island with a team-leading 10 goals. He's helped by playing with John Tavares
, who leads all rookies with 9 goals and 19 points. … Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu
's two assists in the loss to Phoenix moved him into fourth place on the team's all-time scoring list with 204 points. He leads the Wild with 20 points in 21 games.
Injury report --
Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt missed Monday's game for personal reasons but is back with the team and may play. … The Wild are still without center Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(head) and forward Petr Sykora (concussion).
Stat pack --
The Islanders have won just once in six trips to the Xcel Energy Center. They have never scored more than four goals against the Wild; in contrast, Minnesota has four or more goals in six of its 10 meetings with the Isles, including each of the last four.
Puck drop --
New York is coming off a much-needed break before playing three road games in four nights. Given that the Isles are putting goals on the board, the Wild can't afford another slow start.