NEW YORK ISLANDERS (35-23-8) VS CAROLINA HURRICANES (35-25-5)
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The New York Islanders have a big test ahead of them as they face the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday before heading to Western Canada for a four-game road trip that ends stateside in Pittsburgh. More importantly, the Isles hope to get out of their slump and get back into the win column.
The Isles winless stretch reached five games (0-3-2) as they lost 4-3 at Ottawa on Thursday evening. Anders Lee scored on the power play while Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock also found the back of the net. Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves. The Isles took a 2-1 lead in the second period, but Ottawa rallied from behind and scored three-straight goals, including a shorthanded marker, to edge the Isles.
Carolina is in the midst of a five-game road trip with their second stop at Long Island on Saturday. The Canes lost their fourth (0-3-1) straight game with a 4-1 result at Philadelphia on Thursday evening. Justin Williams scored Carolina's sole goal early in the third period to deny Philadelphia the shutout while Alex Nedeljkovic made 28 saves.
MORNING SKATE UPDATES:
- Head Coach Barry Trotz confirmed that forward Cal Clutterbuck will be a game-time decision. Clutterbuck did not play during the third period against Ottawa on Thursday night.
- The Isles are eager for their matchup as they go up against their Metropolitian Division opponent in Carolina and are focused on getting back on track with an important and hopeful win this afternoon.
"We're lacking a little bit of confidence in terms of our play," Trotz said. "It's just sort of trying to wipe everything clean again. I woke up yesterday and we're in a playoff spot. We earned the right to that playoff spot. What we do from now through the rest of the season will dictate if we earn the right to be in the dance or not. What's happened in the last few weeks; a little bit of injuries, a little bit of [losing] confidence, strange things have happened. You fight through it."
- Carolina Projected Lineup:
Niederreiter - Aho - Teravainen
Dzingel - Staal - Williams
Svechnikov - Trocheck - Necas
Foegele - Martinoon - McGinn
Edmundson - Slavin
Fleury - Skjei
Gardiner - Van Riemsdyk
- Lee scored his 20th goal of the season and his second goal on the power play. The Isles captain reached the 20-goal mark for the fifth time in his seven year NHL career and for the fourth straight season. This season, Lee has compiled 41 points through 66 games.
- Barzal potted his 19th goal of the season and snapped a 14-game goalless drought. The 22-year-old center also registered two assists and reached the 40 assist mark for the third straight season. Barzal is atop the Isles leaderboard in assists (40) and points (59) through 66 games this season.
- Pulock's third period goal was his ninth tally of the season. Pulock leads the Isles blueline in goals (9), assists (25) and points (34) through 66 games.
- Varlamov made his 38th start of the season while his record dropped to 19-14-5. Varlamov has a GAA of 2.59 and a SV% of .915.
- Cal Clutterbuck did not play in the third period for the Islanders. After the game, Head Coach Barry Trotz confirmed that Clutterbuck sustained an injury but did not have an immediate update. Clutterbuck did join his teammates at practice on Friday afternoon, but Trotz said he was doubtful for Saturday.
- The Isles power play went 1-for-4 against Ottawa and scored its fourth power-play goal in the last five games. The Islanders extra man unit is ranked 22nd in the NHL (17.9%).
- The Isles relinquished a shorthanded goal for the third time in their last two games. The Isles have given up five shorthanded goals this season.
- The Islanders penalty kill was perfect 3-for-3 against the Senators and has only given up two power-play goals against through their last 12 games.
- The Isles are 6-8-3 since the All-Star Break. In the nine games that they have earned points, they have scored 35 goals, but only have eight goals in their eight regulation losses.
- The Isles are 16-7-8 in games decided by a single goal including 5-5 in regulation.
- Despite this tough stretch the Islanders have endured they are still very much so in the playoff race. The Islanders are currently fifth (35-23-8) in the Metropolitan Division and occupy the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.
"I woke up this morning and we're in a playoff spot," Trotz said at Friday's practice. "That's the incredible thing about the whole thing is we're in a playoff spot. And we earned that."
- Williams found the back of the net for the first fourth time this season and scored his second goal in as many games. The veteran has seven points in 17 games this season. The 38-year-old winger did not make his season debut until Jan. 19, coincidentally the game was against the Islanders.
- Carolina's penalty kill was perfect 2-for-2 against the Flyers. In the NHL, the Canes PK unit is ranked fourth overall at 83.3%.
- Carolina averages the fourth-highest shots on goal per game at 33.2 and have the second-lowest shots against average of 29.4 across the NHL.
- Sebastian Aho leads the Canes in goals (36) and points (62) through his 65 games this season. Aho's 36 goals are sixth-highest in the NHL. The 22-year-old center has gone without a point for the last two games. Through 65 games this season, the Finn has 62 points.
- Twenty-one-year-old rookie Martin Necas is ranked in the top 10 among NHL rookies for goals (16), assists (19) and points (35).
- Nedeljkovic made his second start of the season, while his record dropped to 0-2-1. The 24-year-old goaltender has a GAA of 3.46 and a SV% of .866.
- Petr Mrazek returned to practice for the first time since sustaining a concussion in Toronto on Feb. 22, as the Canes took the ice on Long Island on Friday afternoon. Mrazek was last in net during the Canes last victory on Feb. 22, when both of Carolina's goaltenders were injured and emergency backup goalie Dave Ayres miraculously backstopped the Canes to a 6-3 victory over Toronto. Prior to his injury, Mrazek had a 2.51 GAA and a .928 SV% in his last five appearances.
- The injury bug has struck Carolina in full force as defenseman Brett Pesce underwent shoulder surgery and is expected to be sidelined for six months. Pesce last played on Feb. 22 against Toronto. Through 61 games, Pesce has 18 points (4G, 14A). Dougie Hamilton will miss the remainder of the season with a broken leg which he suffered on Jan. 16. James Reimer, like Mrazek, was also injured (lower-body) against Toronto on Feb. 22 and has yet to return to the lineup. Reimer has a record of 14-6-2, a 2.66 GAA of and a .914 SV%.
- At the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 24, Carolina acquired center Vincent Trocheck from Florida, defensemen Brady Skjei from the New York Rangers and Sami Vantanen from New Jersey. Trocheck has yet to record his first point with the Canes, but through 59 games this season the 26-year-old center has 36 points (10G, 26A). Skjei registered his first point with Carolina on an assist against Colorado on Feb. 28. The 25-year-old blueliner has 24 points (8G, 16A) through 64 games. Vantanen has been sidelined since Feb. 1 with a lower-body injury. Vantanen did make the trip with the team, but did not practice with the team on Friday.
- Carolina is currently in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 35-25-5 and 75 points.
ISLES VS. CANES:
Carolina has won both meetings against the Islanders this season. The Canes defeated the Islanders 5-2 during the Isles first road game of the season back on Oct. 11 and edged the Isles 2-1 after eight rounds of a shootout on Jan. 19.