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Game Preview: Islanders at Oilers

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
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.

New York Islanders
26-11-1 (53 points – T-1st in Metropolitan Division, T-2nd in Eastern Conference)
12-7-1 road
Edmonton Oilers
8-22-9 (25 points 7th in Pacific Division, 14 th in Western Conference)
6-12-2 home
9:30  p.m.
Rexall Place

Edmonton, AB

Television:
MSG+
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:
- Islanders 2, Flames 1 (Jan. 2)

- Post-Game Video (Jan. 2)
- MSG+ Islanders Top Plays of December (Jan. 2)
- National Grid Hometown Hero (Jan. 2)
Islanders player to watch
John Tavares - Center

John Tavares carried the load for the Islanders against the Flames, scoring both goals in the 2-1 win. The Islanders captain notched his third multi-goal game of the season Friday, his second two-goal effort in four games. The Isles captain leads the team in goals (17) and is tied with Kyle Okposo for the overall scoring lead (34 points). Tavares has five goals in his last six games.

Oilers player to watch
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Center

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins leads the Oilers in goals (11) and points (24) this season. The fourth-year player was drafted first overall by the Oilers in the 2011 draft and is the team’s number one center. Nugent-Hopkins set career highs last year across the board, scoring 19 goals, 37 assists and 56 points. Nugent-Hopkins has two goals in his last four games.
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
Edmonton Oilers previous game lines
Forwards
4 Taylor Hall - 93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - 14 Jordan Eberle
67 Benoit Pouliot - 8 Derek Roy - 16 Teddy Purcell
10 Nail Yakupov - 51 Anton Lander - 28 Matt Fraser
23 Matt Hendricks - 27 Boyd Gordon - 20 Luke Gazdic

Defensemen
21 Andrew Ference - 2 Jeff Petry
84 Oscar Klefbom - 5 Mark Fayne
86 Nikita Nikitin - 19 Justin Schultz

Goaltenders
30 Ben Scrivens
35 Viktor Fasth


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