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Game Preview: Islanders at Maple Leafs

The Islanders take on the Maple Leafs in Toronto (7 p.m., MSG+)

by Sasha Kandrach KandrachSasha /




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The Islanders dropped a 2-1 decision in a Metropolitan Division tilt against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday evening at NYCB Live. Brock Nelson put the Isles on the board with the Isles' sole goal of the game while Semyon Varlamov made 29 saves in his third-straight start.

Toronto doubled up Winnipeg 6-3 on Thursday night. William Nylander scored twice, while Kasperi Kapanen, Travis Dermott, Pierre Engvall and Mitchell Marner (power play) also scored while Frederik Andersen made 45 saves. The Maple Leafs have are riding an nine-game point streak. (8-0-1). 

Video: Morning Skate: Isles at Leafs

- Semyon Varlamov was the first goalie off the ice at morning skate, suggesting that he will start in goal for the Islanders. If he does, it'll be his fourth-straight start. 

- Michael Dal Colle took line rushes and is expected to return to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 27. Ross Johnston stayed out for extra work with Sebastian Aho, suggesting he is coming out of the lineup. 

- Michael Hutchinson will start in goal for the Maple Leafs. Hutchinson is 2-5-1 this season with a 4.03 GAA and .883 SV%. The Maple Leafs' backup has won his previous two starts.

Maple Leafs projected lines:

Hyman - Matthews - Marner

Kerfoot - Tavares - Nylander

Engvall - Spezza - Kapanen

Marchment - Brooks - Gauthier

Rielly - Barrie

Marincin - Holl

Dermott - Ceci


*courtesy of Dave McCarthy


-   The loss to the Devils was the Isles fourth-straight on home ice at the Coliseum. The Isles are 0-3-1 and their record fell to 25-11-3 on the season. This is the first time under Barry Trotz at the helm that the Isles have dropped four-straight home games. 

-   Nelson scored his 15th goal of the season. The centerman is second in the Isles leaderboard in goals, assists (16) and points (31) through 39 games. Nelson is riding a three-game point streak with (2G, 1A) during that span and has goals in back-to-back games. 

-   Ryan Pulock assisted on Nelson's goal to grab his 14th assist of the season. The blueliner leads defenseman in assists and goals (6) and points (20) through 39 games this season. 

-   Derick Brassard also assisted on Nelson's goal to record his 13th assist of the season. Brassard has 21 points through 39 games and snapped a pointless stretch of four games with the helper. 

-   Varlamov made his third-straight start which was the first time this season that either Varlamov or Thomas Greiss received consecutive starting nods outside of two. The Russian netminder has a record of 14-4-3, a 2.41 goals against average and a save percentage of .921. 

-   It was announced on Friday morning that Adam Pelech sustained an injury to his Achilles tendon and will be out the remainder of the season. Through 38 games this season, Pelech compiled nine points (1G, 8A) while playing on the Islanders top pair alongside Ryan Pulock. Pelech averaged 21:08 time on ice per game - the second most on the Isles - an average PK time on ice per game of 2:47, also second highest. The 25-year-old right shot leads the Isles in blocks with 83. 

-   In Pelech's absence, the Isles recalled Swedish defenseman Sebastian Aho from their AHL affiliate the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Through 34 games this season, the 23-year-old left shot has 20 points (2G, 18A). 

-   With Pelech out on Thursday 19-year-old rookie Noah Dobson joined the lineup as he suited up in his 12th NHL game. Dobson logged 11:57 time on ice, had one hit and one block. 

-   The Isles penalty kill went 2-for-2 against the Devils. Through the last four games, the Isles are 11-for-11 on the PK. In the NHL, the Isles PK is ranked 12th overall at 81.2%. 

-   The Isles won the majority of faceoff draws against the Devils and finished the night at 53% at the dot. Unfortunately, both of New Jersey's goals came from faceoff plays. 


-   The Leafs have won eight of their last nine contests (8-0-1), with their sole loss in that stretch falling in overtime 5-4 to the New York Rangers on Dec. 28. The Maple Leafs improved their record to 23-14-5 and have 51 points to place them eight points behind Boston who leads the Atlantic Division with 59 points. 

-   Nylander posted a team-high, three-point (2G, 1A) outing as he scored his 18th and 19th goals of the season against Winnipeg. The winger is second among the Leafs in goals and tied for second in points (38) through 42 games this season. Nylander has scored in five-straight games and has points in seven of his last eight games with 15 points (8G, 7A) during that span. 

-   Kapanen scored his 10th goal of the season. Through 42 games, the winger has 23 points. 

-   Dermott found the back of the net for the fourth time this season. The blueliner has eight points (4G, 4A) through 29 games this season. 

-   Evgvall scored his fifth goal of the season. The Swedish winger has nine points (5G, 4A) through 20 games. Engvall has goals four of his last seven games, where he scored in every other game. 

-   Marner scored his 11th goal of the season and his fifth goal on the power play. The winger leads the Maple Leafs in assists with 27. Marner has 38 points through 31 games. 

-   Andersen made his 33rd start of the season. Toronto's go-to netminder has a record of 21-8-4, a 2.67 GAA and a .916 SV%. 

-   The Leafs power play went 1-for-4 against the Jets. In the NHL, Toronto's power play unit is ranked fifth overall at 24.1%.

-   Toronto split faceoffs 50/50 with Winnipeg. Across the NHL, the Maple Leafs are tied for third overall at the faceoff circle with a percentage of 52.4. 

-   The Maple Leafs average the second-highest goals for per game in the NHL at 3.60. The Leafs also put up the fourth-highest average of shots per game at 33.6. 

-   Toronto's leader in goals (27) and points (49) is Auston Matthews. Matthews is second in the NHL in goals behind David Pastrnak (30). 

-   The Maple Leafs are without Andreas Johnsson, Trevor Moore, Ilya Mikheyev, and Jake Muzzin who are all on injured reserve. Johnsson was placed on LTIR on Dec. 6 after sustaining a leg injury blocking a shot against Colorado. The winger had 16 points (6G, 10A) through 30 games prior to his injury. Moore is out indefinitely with a concussion that he sustained against Detroit on Dec. 21. Muzzin is week-to-week with a lower-body injury after blocking a shot with his foot on Dec. 27 against New Jersey. Mikheyev, who is a rookie winger, is projected to miss three-months after undergoing surgery for a wrist injury when he suffered a cut from a skate he caught up high against New Jersey on Dec. 27. 


The Isles claimed the first meeting over Toronto of the 2019-20 season 5-4 at NYCB Live on Nov. 13. The Isles are 3-1-0 their last four meetings against Toronto. For the Isles, Anthony Beauvillier scored twice the power play including once on while Mathew Barzal, Derick Brassard (power play) and Casey Ciziks also scored. Varlamov made 23 saves. For the Leafs, Kapanen, Nylander, Justin Holl and John Tavares scored while Andersen made 25 saves 

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