UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Washington Capitals have owned the New York Islanders in recent years. They swept the season series against the Isles in 2010-11 and have 11 wins and three overtime/shootout losses in the last 14 meetings.
The Caps are also 9-2-0 and averaging four goals a game after a 5-1 win Friday at Carolina. The Islanders have gone six games without a win and are last in the NHL with just 18 goals scored.
But don't try to tell coach Bruce Boudreau or his players that tonight's visit to the Nassau Coliseum will be easy -- after all, eight of the last 14 games between the teams have gone past regulation and 11, including all four last season, were decided by one goal.
"I never take these guys lightly," Boudreau said. "They are as tough a team as we play, no matter what they've gone through. You look at their lineup and you have a hard time believing that so many good players have not got very many goals. You watch the last three games -- they worked so hard, you just know they're going to break out. You just pray it's not against you."
Forward Mike Knuble warned that the Caps can't just take the Islanders' record at face value.
"That's a trap you fall into," he said. "You look at their record and you see they haven't scored a lot of goals and it's very easy to think you're going to have another night like last night. They show up and play hard against us. They can put you on your heels very quickly.
"They'll come out buzzing -- we know that. You can talk about it and know it's going to happen, but you have to be prepared for it."
In addition to solid goaltending, scheduling and a bit of luck, Boudreau said his team's depth offensively is a major reason for the fast start.
"We've had pretty good balance, where if some guys aren't going, other guys are going,” Boudreau said. “We haven't had a game as yet where we've had 15 guys just not going. That's been a positive thing."
For the Islanders to snap their slide, they'll have to beat a goaltender who has given them fits throughout his career. Tomas Vokoun is 7-1-0 in his first season with the Caps -- and 14-5-1 with a 1.96 goals-against average and four shutouts in his career against the Isles.
Here is the projected lineup for the Capitals:
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Alexander Semin
Troy Brouwer – Marcus Johansson – Cody Eakin/Mathieu Perreault
Jason Chimera – Brooks Laich – Joel Ward
Matt Hendricks – Jeff Halpern – Mike Knuble
Roman Hamrlik – John Carlson
Jeff Schultz – Karl Alzner
John Erskine – Dennis Wideman