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OILERS (15-18-3) at ISLANDERS (12-17-6)
TV: SNET-West; MSG (HD)
LAST 10: Edmonton 2-8-0; New York 3-6-1
Season Series: As was the case last season, the Isles and Oilers are meeting just once this season. Edmonton won 2-1 at home on Jan. 6 in the only meeting of 2010-11. The Oilers have lost their last five visits to the Nassau Coliseum.
Big Story: In the early 1980s, this would have been one of the best matchups of the season. Instead, it's simply a meeting of rebuilding teams -- though both have some premium young talent.
Oilers: Edmonton grabbed a fast 1-0 lead Thursday night in Minnesota when Taylor Hall scored less than two minutes into the game. But the Wild scored the next three goals, forcing the Oilers to spend the rest of the night playing catch-up. They got within one goal twice but came up short in a 4-3 loss, their fifth in six games and second in as many games on their seven-game road trip.
"We have to make sure we keep playing this kind of hockey, and if we do we're going to be fine," said captain Shawn Horcoff, who scored early in the final period to pull the Oilers within 4-3.
Islanders: John Tavares showed why the Islanders chose him with the first pick in the 2009 NHL Draft with a highlight-reel, go-ahead goal in Thursday's 3-1 win against Calgary. Tavares raced down the right side, made a spectacular move to get around Chris Butler and went backhand-to-forehand to beat Miikka Kiprusoff early in the third period, giving the Isles a 2-1 lead in a game they won 3-1.
"When your best player is your best player in a game, you've got a good chance to win. And '91' was real strong tonight," coach Jack Capuano said of Tavares, who also assisted on Andrew MacDonald's tying goal in the second period. "He hasn't been scoring as much of late, but the chances are there, and he buried one tonight."
Who's Hot: He doesn't get the attention of No. 1 overall picks Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but Jordan Eberle leads the Oilers with 38 points, including eight (five goals, three assists) in the Oilers' last six games. … PA Parenteau had two assists in the win against Calgary and has six points in five games. He leads the Isles with 30 points.
Injury Report: The Oilers are still without top defenseman Ryan Whitney, who's still sidelined with an ankle injury but may return before the trip ends. Defenseman Cam Barker is still recovering from ankle surgery, and rookie d-man Alex Plante suffered a concussion in Vancouver on Monday. … The Isles are also hurting. Goalie Al Montoya (concussion) has yet to skate since his injury last week. Rick DiPietro (groin) says he's feeling better while forward Micheal Haley is out with a hand injury. Defenseman Steve Staios (concussion) is still out, as is forward Jay Pandolfo.
Stat Pack: Edmonton is third in the NHL on the power play at 20.7 percent. But the Oilers are just 11-fot-67 (16.4 percent) on the road. … The Islanders have allowed a League-leading 10 empty-net goals. … New York has allowed opponents just 10 power plays in its last six games.
Puck Drop: Before the game, the Isles will induct Ken Morrow into their Hall of Fame. Morrow joined the Isles after helping Team USA win Olympic gold in 1980 and was a key member of all four Stanley Cup-winning teams on Long Island. Morrow, a stay-at-home defenseman, actually outscored Wayne Gretzky two goals to one in the 1983 Final when the Isles swept the Oilers for their fourth consecutive Cup. He retired in 1989 due to knee problems and is the team's Director of Pro Scouting.
"It kind of snowballed after winning the first one and then you are just kind of along for the ride," he told the team's website of winning four straight Cups. "We had such a good and such a dominant team at that time. … You came to the rink every day knowing that you have a real good chance to win a game, and that's what it's all about."
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