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Game Preview: Islanders vs. Sharks

by Jacob Betzner / New York Islanders

The New York Islanders welcome the San Jose Sharks to Nassau Coliseum tonight at 7 p.m. in a matchup of two undefeated teams. The game pits the Islanders against a strong team out of the Western Conference. With only two cracks at every Western Conference team during the regular season, every game counts.

Goaltender Jaroslav Halak, fresh off a 40-save performance and First Star honors in a 6-3 win against the New York Rangers on Tuesday night, saw plenty of action against Western Conference teams as a member of the St. Louis Blues the past four seasons. Halak said the style of play between the Eastern and Western Conferences differs somewhat, but regardless, the Islanders need to be prepared to face a tough opponent.

“In the [Eastern Conference], it seems like teams try to play more on the offense and in the [Western Conference], they’re trying to put more emphasis on the defense,” he said. “They play on defense more, but every team is different. I know [the Sharks] have a really good, hard team. They work hard and it’s going to be a hard game from the start.”

Like the Islanders, San Jose currently stands at 3-0-0. Both Sharks goalies, Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock, posted shutouts in their season debuts. The Sharks followed up back-to-back shutouts with a 6-5 shootout victory against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.

“[San Jose is] a good hockey club,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “When you talk about speed and when you talk about some good veteran leadership, obviously, they’re a team you look at. Their back end is as strong skating as I’ve seen. It’s going to be a 200-foot game. It’s going to be a high-paced game, and we have to be ready to skate.”

The Islanders penalty kill finished a perfect three-for-three against the Rangers on Tuesday night after allowing four goals on nine chances in two games against the Carolina Hurricanes. Capuano rotated six forwards on the penalty kill against the Rangers instead of four, giving players more time to rest in between shifts. Halak said the Islanders must continue strong penalty killing against a talented San Jose team.

“[San Jose has] a really good power play,” Halak said. “They have some guys that have been together for a long time. They can move the puck around and we just have to stay out of the box and even if we get some penalties we need to kill those penalties.”

Expect plenty of excitement Thursday night at the Coliseum as both the Islanders and San Jose look to remain undefeated early in the season, and be sure to wear pink at the game in support of “Breast Cancer Awareness Night,” part of the Hockey Fights Cancer special events.

New York Islanders
3-0-0 (6 points – T-1st in Metropolitan Division, T-1st in Eastern Conference)
1-0-0 home
San Jose Sharks
3-0-0 (6 points - 1st in Pacific Division, T-1st in Western Conference)
2-0-0 road
7:00  p.m.
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Uniondale, NY

Television:
MSG PLUS
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
What's Happening at the Coliseum:
• Lower Lobby Opens at 5pm
• Doors Open at 5:45pm
• Breast Cancer Awareness Night
• Red Cross Blood Drive 9am - 3 pm

Islanders player to watch
John Tavares - Forward

John Tavares has picked up right where he left off last season, scoring seven points (2G, 5A) in the Islanders first three games. Tavares is tied with fellow Islander Brock Nelson – and three other players – for the NHL’s scoring lead. Tavares has scored multiple points in all three games and the Islanders captain is riding a five-game point streak dating back to last season.
Sharks player to watch
Patrick Marleau - Forward

Patrick Marleau is tied for the Sharks scoring lead with four points (2G, 2A) in his first three games this season. The former captain had his two-game point streak snapped Tuesday in Washington, but is always dangerous on the ice. Marleau has scored 30 or more goals in each of the last five full seasons, hitting a career high, 44, in 2009-10.
New York Islanders previous game lines
Forwards
89 Cory Conacher 91 John Tavares 21 Kyle Okposo
84 Mikhail Grabovski
29 Brock Nelson – 18 Ryan Strome
12 Josh Bailey
51 Frans Nielsen – 86 Nikolay Kulemin
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas 15 Cal Clutterbuck

Defensemen

2 Nick Leddy 55 Johnny Boychuk
14 Thomas Hickey
3 Travis Hamonic
37 Brian Strait 8 Griffin Reinhart

Goaltenders
41 Jaroslav Halak
30 Chad Johnson
San Jose Sharks previous game lines
Forwards
48 Tomas Hertl - 19 Joe Thornton - 8 Joe Pavelski
12 Patrick Marleau - 39 Logan Couture - 83 Matthew Nieto
25 Tye McGinn - 50 Chris Tierney - 57 Tommy Wingels
37 Adam Burish - 10 Andrew Desjardins - 20 John Scott

Defensemen
44 Marc-Edouard Vlasic - 61 Justin Braun
52 Matt Irwin - 88 Brent Burns
27 Scott hannan - 5 Jason Demers

Goaltenders
31 Antti Niemi
32 Alex Stalock

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