While their teams were mired in respective early-season three-game losing streaks, Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller and New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano preached patience. Neither coach felt compelled to make major changes during that time and both teams rewarded that patience with wins Thursday.
After the Hurricanes beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 and the Islanders topped the Edmonton Oilers by the same score, the two teams will face off Saturday on Long Island. The consistency both coaches were praising, even during their losing skids, primarily was regarding new forward combinations installed at the beginning of the season.
Capuano made his mark early this season by breaking up the combinations of captain John Tavares and Matt Moulson as well as emerging forwards Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo. Bailey and Okposo were an explosive pair late last season but both have found success on new lines. Okposo has been skating on the top line with Tavares and speedster Michael Grabner while Bailey has found chemistry on the second line with Frans Nielsen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. That line opened the scoring Thursday against Edmonton and has provided a spark for the Islanders.