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Game Preview: Islanders vs. Maple Leafs

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

ISLANDERS (42-21-4) at MAPLE LEAFS (26-35-5)

TV: TVA, MSG+, SNO


Season series: Phil Kessel's two goals helped the Toronto Maple Leafs chase New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak in a 5-2 win on Oct. 24. Halak rebounded on Feb. 12 with 32 saves and a 3-2 victory that earned him his 30th win of the season. Rookie Anders Lee scored two goals, including the tiebreaker in the second period.

Islanders team scope: New York, which had off Sunday, remained in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 88 points despite losing three of its past four games. The Islanders, who are wrapping up a four-game road trip, have won four of their past five games in Toronto and are 6-2-2 in their past 10 against the Maple Leafs. New York is coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers during which goalie Michal Neuvirth made 15 saves in his Islanders debut. Forward John Tavares had a goal and two assists to establish a career-high 32 goals and take over the NHL scoring lead with 70 points. The Islanders captain has two goals and five points in his past two games. Lee has points in 12 of his past 15 games (7-9-16). Forward Josh Bailey has 11 in his past 14 (6-5-11). After playing the Maple Leafs, the Islanders return home to face the second-place New York Rangers on Tuesday.

Maple Leafs team scope: Toronto could be without center Nazem Kadri after he was sent home prior to practice Sunday by coach Peter Horachek. "He missed a meeting, so I sent him home," Horachek told the Toronto Sun. "He showed up, but not when I was doing it. He is available if I want him." Trevor Smith took Kadri's spot in line rushes between Leo Komarov and Richard Panik. Forward Stephane Robidas will have shoulder surgery and will miss the rest of the season. He is expected to be ready for training camp. Goalie Jonathan Bernier will start for Toronto. Bernier was chased after the first period of a 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday when he allowed three goals on 17 shots. The loss was the Maple Leafs' second-worst at Air Canada Centre this season and their 17th loss by three or more goals, third-most in the League. The Maple Leafs are 5-19-2 under Horachek, winning consecutive games once.

New York Islanders
42-21-4 (88 points – 1st in Metropolitan Division, 2nd in Eastern Conference)
19-12-4 road
Toronto Maple Leafs
26-35-5 (57 points - 7th in Atlantic Division, 13th in Eastern Conference)
18-14-0 home
7:30  p.m.
Air Canada Centre
Toronto, ON

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:
- A Work of Art (Mar. 8)
- MSG: Tavares and Bossy (Mar. 8)
- Panthers 4, Islanders 3 (SO) (Mar. 8)
Islanders player to watch
John Tavares - Forward

Tavares set a career high with his 32nd goal Saturday, part of a three-point effort. He has five points in his last two games, sprinting to the top of the NHL scoring race. In total, Tavares has 70 points (32 goals, 38 assists) in 67 games, setting the pace in the Art Ross Race.
Maple Leafs player to watch
Phil Kessel - Forward

Even in the midst of a tough season, Phil Kessel is undisputedly the best player on the Maple Leafs roster. Kessel has 51 points (23 goals, 28 assists) in 66 games this season – his lowest point-per-game total in four seasons. The 27-year-old has scored 30 goals in five straight full seasons.
New York Islanders previous game lines
Forwards
27 Anders Lee 91 John Tavares 12 Josh Bailey
86 Nikolay Kulemin 51 Frans Nielsen – 18 Ryan Strome
40 Michael Grabner
29 Brock Nelson15 Cal Clutterbuck
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 13 Colin McDonald

Defensemen

2 Nick Leddy 55 Johnny Boychuk
44 Calvin de Haan 3 Travis Hamonic
14 Thomas Hickey11 Lubomir Visnovsky

Goaltenders
30 Michal Neuvirth
41 Jaroslav Halak
Toronto Maple Leafs previous game lines
Forwards
21 James van Riemsdyk - 42 Tyler Bozak - 81 Phil Kessel
47 Leo Komarov - 43 Nazem Kadri - 18 Richard Panik
19 Joffrey Lupul - 24 Peter Holland - 20 David Booth
22 Zach Sill - 23 Trevor Smith - 15 Joakim Lindstrom

Defensemen:
51 Jake Gardiner - 3 Dion Phaneuf
44 Morgan Rielly - 46 Roman Polak
33 Tim Erixon - 2 Eric Brewer

Goaltender:
45 Jonathan Bernier
34 James Reimer


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