The orange and blue face the blue and orange, as the New York Islanders take on the Edmonton Oilers tonight at 9:30 p.m. eastern time.
The Islanders are in oil country in search of their fourth straight win, two nights after picking up a pair of points in a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Friday. While John Tavares made headlines with a two-goal performance in Calgary, the Islanders strong penalty kill was a big factor in the victory. The PK came up with back-to-back stops in the third period, preserving what was then a 1-0 lead.
“Our PK forecheck was much better,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “I thought we pressured on our chips and dumps and that makes a big difference.W e were clearing the puck, winning some faceoffs and changing.”
The Islanders penalty kill has stopped 19-of-20 tries over the last seven games. They are sacrificing the body, blocking shots and competing hard in the corners and along the walls.
“That’s our game plan, we want them to dump the puck and then it’s kind of a free-for-all,” Calvin de Haan said.
The Oilers enter the game in the midst of a tough season and are winless in 11 of their last 12 games, including a 2-1 shootout defeat to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. The Oilers also had an 11-game winless streak from Nov. 11 to Dec. 3 that led to the firing of Head Coach Dallas Eakins and the interim hiring of Oklahoma City Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson.
That doesn’t mean the Oilers don’t have young, talented players. Taylor Hall was tied for sixth in league scoring with 80 points last season and is currently second in team scoring with 23 points. Burnaby, B.C. native Ryan Nugent-Hopkins leads the Oilers with 11 goals and 24 points, while Jordan Eberle is third on the team with 22 points.
“They are a quick hockey team,” Capuano said. “They have a lot of youth and a lot of speed. For us it’s making sure we manage the puck.”
The Oilers have altered their roster over the past week, acquiring Derek Roy and Rob Klinkhammer in a pair of trades with Nashville and Pittsburgh, respectively. The Oilers traded Mark Arcobello to the Predators for Roy on Dec. 29 and acquired Klinkhammer and a 2015 first-round draft pick for David Perron on Friday.
Roy has an assist in three games with the Oilers, while Klinkhammer has yet to debut in Edmonton.
Capuano has not named a starter, but Jaroslav Halak has won seven straight games and is 18-2-0 in his last 20. Ben Scrivens is 6-13-7 for the Oilers this season.
The puck drops in Northern Alberta at 9:30 p.m. eastern time.