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Game Preview: Islanders at Flames

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
The New York Islanders resolution for 2015, keep playing like its 2014.


The Islanders earned 97 points in 78 games during 2014 (51 this season, 46 from January to April) their highest total since posting 105 in 1983. The team finished every month with a record of .500 or higher for the first time since 1985.

The Islanders finished the year with a convincing 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on New Year’s Eve and continue their seven-game road trip tonight in Calgary at 9 p.m. eastern time.

The Islanders enter the game riding a two-game winning streak, giving them an Eastern-Conference leading 25 wins this season. While John Tavares and Kyle Okposo sit atop the Islanders scoring lead with 32 points apiece, the emergence of Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson and Anders Lee as secondary scorers is one of the prime reasons for the Islanders success in the calendar year.

Strome (seven goals, 20 assists) and Nelson (14 goals, 13 assists) are tied for third in team scoring with 27 points each. Strome is coming off a career-high, four-point night (one goal, three assists) in Wednesday’s win over the Jets while Nelson’s 14 goals and Lee’s nine are second and third on the team.

The Islanders have also received stingy goaltending from Jaroslav Halak this season, as the Slovakian netminder has won 17 of his last 19 starts and six consecutive. Head Coach Jack Capuano will name his starter following Friday’s morning skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Flames have also had a strong start to the 2014-15 season, opening up a 21-15-3 record in their first 39 games. Calgary’s hot start was quelled in an eight-game winless streak in December, but the Flames are back to putting gas on the fire, winning four straight including a 4-3 OT win over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

Wednesday’s win was the league-leading eighth time the Flames have comeback when trailing after two periods.

Jiri Hudler leads the Flames with 13 goals and 37 points this season. Hudler has seven assists on a five-game point streak. Captain Mark Giordano leads all NHL defensemen in goals (10), assists (25) and points (35) and sits second in Flames scoring. Reigning Hobey Baker Award (NCAA Hockey’s top player) winner Johnny Gaudreau is enjoying a terrific rookie season with the Flames, posting 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) in 38 games.

Calgary’s crease is split between first-year Flame Jonas Hiller and second-year Flame Karri Ramo. Hiller has started the last six games and has a 4-1-1 record in that span. On the season, the former Anaheim Duck is 13-10-2 with a 2.31 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.

The Flames and Islanders face off in their first of two meetings this season tonight at 9 p.m.

New York Islanders
25-11-1 (51 points – T-1st in Metropolitan Division, T-2nd in Eastern Conference)
11-7-1 road
Calgary Flames
21-15-3 (45 points T-3rd in Pacific Division, T-6th in Western Conference)
11-6-2 home
9:00  p.m.
Scotiabank Saddledome

Calgary, AB

Television:
MSG+2
Play-by-play: Jiggs McDonald
; Color: Butch Goring
Channel Finder

Radio: WRHU 88.7 FM, LI News Radio 103.9 FM
Play-by-play: Chris King; Color: Greg Picker
Islanders News:
- Flyin' Ryan (Jan. 1)

- Practice at the O.K. Corral (Jan. 1)
- Islanders 5, Jets 2 (Dec. 31)
- Making Things Right (Dec. 31)
- They're Goin' Home (Dec. 31)
Islanders player to watch
Ryan Strome - Forward

Ryan Strome had a career night in Winnipeg, scoring four points (one goal, three assists). Strome now has six points (one goal, five assists) in his last two games. The Mississauga, ON, native leads the Islanders with eight multi-point games and his 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) ties Brock Nelson for third in team scoring. Strome also leads the Islanders with a plus-13 rating.

Flames player to watch
Mark Giordano - Defenseman

Mark Giordano has made a case in the first half of the season as a Norris Trophy candidate as the league’s top defenseman. The 30-year-old Toronto native is currently leading all defensemen in goals (10), assists (25) and points (35) in 39 games. Giordano is also third in the NHL among defensemen with a plus-17 rating. The eight-year veteran is 12 points shy of his career high of 47 points set last season.
New York Islanders previous game lines
Forwards
12 Josh Bailey
91 John Tavares 21 Kyle Okposo
27 Anders Lee 51 Frans Nielsen 18 Ryan Strome
84 Mikhail Grabovski
29 Brock Nelson
86 Nikolay Kulemin
17 Matt Martin
– 
53 Casey Cizikas 15 Cal Clutterbuck

Defensemen

2 Nick Leddy 55 Johnny Boychuk
44 Calvin de Haan
3 Travis Hamonic
11 Lubomir Visnovsky 11 Thomas Hickey

Goaltenders
41 Jaroslav Halak
30 Chad Johnson
Calgary Flames previous game lines
Forwards
13 Johnny Gaudreau - 60 Markus Granlund - 24 Jiri Hudler
20 Curtis Glencross - 23 Sean Monahan - 19 David Jones
8 Joe Colborne - 86 Josh Jooris - 32 Paul Byron
25 Brandon Bollig - 18 Matt Stajan - 17 Lance Bouma

Defenseman
5 Mark Giordano - 7 T.J. Brodie
4 Kris Russell - 6 Dennis Wideman
33 Raphael Diaz - 29 Deryk Engelland

Goaltenders
1 Jonas Hiller
31 Karri Ramo


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