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Game Preview: Islanders vs. Blackhawks

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
Nick Leddy faces off against his former team tonight as the New York Islanders host the Chicago Blackhawks at 7 p.m. at Nassau Coliseum.


Leddy played his first four NHL seasons – 258 games – in Chicago before he was dealt to the Islanders in October.

“It’s going to definitely be strange,” Leddy said. “I played there for four years and had some great memories. This is my team now and it’s time to focus on getting back onto a winning streak.”

Leddy has fit in well since joining the Islanders, scoring 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 29 games. He has seen his role increase with the Islanders, averaging four more minutes of ice time per game than in his last year with Chicago, where he played behind elite defensemen on the depth chart.

“Obviously they have a quality set of defense in Chicago and we were happy to get him,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “He’s a guy who is very elusive on the back end. He’s an elite skater. He’s fit right in. He’s a great team guy. He’s added a dimension to our game that we needed.”

“Things have worked out, not only for Nick, but for us as well.”

The Islanders got some good news at practice on Friday, as injured defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic and forward Casey Cizikas all skated with the team. Boychuk was limited to skating drills, but Head Coach Jack Capuano said Hamonic and Cizikas were “progressing well” and he would likely have further updates at today’s morning skate.

Just seeing their teammates take a step forward was a morale boost for the Islanders after a winless, two-game road trip.

“It’s always good to see guys getting healthy and getting back,” captain John Tavares said. “We know the impact they can make for us in our lineup, so it’s good to see them getting better.”

The Blackhawks enter tonight’s game red-hot, having won eight in a row. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews left Chicago’s win over Boston on Thursday night with an upper-body injury, but did travel with the team to Long Island. Injured goaltender Corey Crawford skated with the Blackhawks for the first time Thursday, but Head Coach Joel Quinville told the Chicago Sun-Times that he was a “long shot” to play against the Islanders.

Scott Darling has started – and won – the Blackhawks last three games, allowing two goals or fewer in each contest. Darling has been splitting time with Antti Raanta since Crawford suffered a lower-body injury off the ice. 

Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks in goals (13) and points (27) through 29 games. Kris Versteeg leads the team with 15 assists.

Puck drop is at 7 p.m. Stay tuned to NewYorkIslanders.com all day for further updates.

New York Islanders
19-10-0 (38 points – 2nd in Metropolitan Division, 4th in Eastern Conference)
10-3-0 home
Chicago Blackhawks
20-8-1 (41 points - 1st in Central Division, 2nd in Western Conference)
11-5-0 road
7:00 p.m.
Nassau Coliseum

Uniondale, NY

Television:
MSG
Play-by-play: Howie Rose
; Color: Butch Goring
Channel Finder

Radio: WRHU 88.7 FM, LI News Radio 103.9 FM
Play-by-play: Chris King
Islanders News:
- Blues 6, Islanders 3 (Dec. 11)
- Al Arbour: Legendary Coach (Dec. 11)

What's Happening at the Coliseum:
- Lower Lobby 5pm
- Doors 5:45pm
- Clark Gillies Mini Locker Night
Islanders player to watch
Nick Leddy - Defenseman

Nick Leddy is set to face off against his former team for the first time tonight. Leddy won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013 and has provided a veteran presence on the Islanders back end. Leddy has seen increased power-play time in the Isles last six games and had a three-game assist streak snapped Thursday night in St. Louis.
Blackhawks player to watch
Patrick Kane - Forward

Patrick Kane enters the game as the Blackhawks leading scorer, with 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) in 29 games. His 13 goals are also tops on Chicago, while his stickhandling ability rivals any player in the National Hockey League. Kane scored the game winner on Thursday night against the Boston Bruins, lifting the Blackhawks to an eighth-straight win.
New York Islanders previous game lines
Forwards
86 Nikolay Kulemin
91 John Tavares 21 Kyle Okposo
84 Mikhail Grabovski – 51 Frans Nielsen15 Cal Clutterbuck
40 Michael Grabner 29 Brock Nelson 27 Anders Lee
17 Matt Martin
18 Ryan Strome 36 Eric Boulton

Defensemen

2 Nick Leddy 37 Brian Strait
44 Calvin de Haan
46 Matt Donovan
14 Thomas Hickey 11 Lubomir Visnovsky

Goaltenders
41 Jaroslav Halak
30 Chad Johnson
Chicago Blackhawks previous game lines
Forwards
20 Brandon Saad - 19 Jonathan Toews - 81 Marian Hossa
23 Kris Versteeg - 91 Brad Richards - 88 Patrick Kane
29 Bryan Bickell - 65 Andrew Shaw - 10 Patrick Sharp
13 Dan Carcillo - 16 Marcus Kruger - 28 Ben Smith

Defensemen
2 Duncan Keith - 7 Brent Seabrook
4 Niklas Hjalmarsson - 27 Johnny Oduya
Klas Dahlbeck - 32 Michal Rozsival

Goaltenders
31 Antti Raanta
Scott Darling



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