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Game Preview: Islanders at Jets

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
The New York Islanders kick off a seven-game road trip tonight when they face off against the Winnipeg Jets at 5:00 p.m. at MTS Centre.

“It’s always been a tough trip when you go out West,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “We just talked about it [Tuesday] morning, we have to stay focused, play the way we need to play and if we do that we’ll give ourselves a chance to win.”

The Islanders look to even the season series with the Jets after dropping the first meeting of the season 4-3 on Oct. 28 at Nassau Coliseum. Shifting the series to Winnipeg may benefit the Islanders, who are 4-0-1 in five trips to MTS Centre.

The Islanders are coming off of a 4-3 overtime win over the Washington Capitals on Monday night. Those two points were in jeopardy, as the Islanders gave up three third-period goals, two off of face-off plays, but Capuano remains confident in his team.

“We dictated the pace in the third period,” Capuano said. “If I sat and watched our team play and sit back, give up a ton of chances, there would be concerns as a coach and a coaching staff. I told our guys, ‘continue to play on your toes, continue to be physical and play the way we’ve been playing.’”

Capuano made a subtle shuffle in his lines Monday, swapping centers Frans Nielsen and Brock Nelson. The coach was pleased with the offensive output from his lineup up and down the four lines. Capuano singled out Ryan Strome, who set up the game-winner and had a solid game overall with three takeaways, two assists and a hit.

“That was one of his better games,” Capuano said. “He’s got to be engaged, continue to stay on the body. If you want to be an elite player in this league, the skilled players do that. I’m starting to see more and more of that out of Ryan Strome.”

Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little lead the Jets offensively. Ladd (12 goals, 15 assists) and Wheeler (11 goals, 16 assists) pace all Jets with 27 points, while Little leads the team with 14 goals and is riding a four-game point streak (two goals, three assists). Wheeler is also streaking, with four points (two goals, two assists) in his last three games.

The Jets will be without Evander Kane, who is expected to be out until February with a lower-body injury. Kane also missed the first Islanders-Jets game this season with injury.

Goaltender Michael Hutchinson has started the past three games for the Jets, going 2-1-0 over that stretch. The Jets goaltender is having a sensational rookie season, leading the NHL in save percentage (.937) and is currently second in goals against average (1.87). Head Coach Paul Maurice has not named a starter yet for tonight’s game.

Puck drop between the Islanders and Jets goes at 5 p.m. eastern time.

New York Islanders
24-11-1 (49 points – T-1st in Metropolitan Division, T-2nd in Eastern Conference)
10-7-1 road
Winnipeg Jets
19-11-7 (42 points - 4th in Central Division, 6th in Western Conference)
8-7-3 home
5:00  p.m.
MTS Centre

Winnipeg, MB

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:
- The Breakdown: Calvin de Haan (Dec. 30)

- Islanders Prospect Report (Dec. 30)
- Islanders 4, Capitals 3 (OT) (Dec. 29)
Islanders player to watch
Johnny Boychuk - Defense

Johnny Boychuk was the hero of Monday’s contest, blasting the overtime winner in the Islanders 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals. Boychuk is the team leader in time on ice per game (22:09) and the Islanders are 10-2-0 when Boychuk leads the team in ice time. He has 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) this season.
Jets player to watch
Blake Wheeler - Forward

Blake Wheeler is tied with captain Andrew Ladd for the Jets scoring lead with 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) in 37 games this season. Wheeler is currently riding a three-game point streak (two goals, two assists). The Plymouth, MN native was held pointless against the Islanders earlier this season.
New York Islanders previous game lines
12 Josh Bailey
91 John Tavares 21 Kyle Okposo
84 Mikhail Grabovski51 Frans Nielsen86 Nikolay Kulemin
27 Anders Lee
29 Brock Nelson 18 Ryan Strome
17 Matt Martin
53 Casey Cizikas 15 Cal Clutterbuck


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

41 Jaroslav Halak
30 Chad Johnson
Winnipeg Jets previous game lines
16 Andrew Ladd - 18 Bryan Little - 26 Blake Wheeler
85 Mathieu Perreault - 55 Mark Scheifele - 67 Michael Folik
22 Chris Thorburn - 17 Adam Lowry - 15 Matt Halischuk
21 T.J. Galiardi - 19 Jim Slater - 14 Anthony Peluso

63 Ben Chiarot - 33 Dustin Byfuglien
23 Jay Harrison - 24 Grant Clitsome
2 Adam Pardy - 4 Paul Postma

31 Ondrej Pavalec
34 Michael Hutchinson

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