Islanders (29-23-8) vs. Toronto (29-23-8)
(7:30 p.m. ET, TV: FSN NY 2| Radio: Bloomberg 1130) Two teams with identical records match-up tonight when the Islanders host the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Nassau Coliseum.
Fighting for their playoff lives, the Islanders and Maple Leafs will look to better their post-season standing tonight. The teams come into the contest tied for ninth and one point out of a playoff spot. It's going to be tight the rest of the season, but games like these carry much weight a four-point swing. A win by the Islanders in regulation will give them a two-point lead over the Leafs and the possibility of landing as high as seventh in the Eastern Conference after tonight.
For those of you interested in scoreboard watching, the Carolina Hurricanes, who anxiously hold the eighth spot by one point, host the last-place Philadelphia Flyers, while seventh-place Montreal two points in front of the Islanders visit Nashville. The Rangers are also in the mix -- three points in back of the Islanders -- take on New Jersey at tonight at Madison Square Garden.
The Islanders played in one of the most exciting games on the season on Presidents' Day against the Pittsburgh Penguins. After trailing 3-1 early in the second period, the Islanders stormed back to score the next three in just over six minutes of playing time. Chris Simon, Jason Blake and Miroslav Satan cashed in to give the Islanders their first lead until Mark Recchi tied the game at four late in the second period.
The beginning of the third period saw Ryan Malone complete his hat trick, having scored in the opening minute of each period a first in the NHL. But Simon tallied his second of the game just a minute later, setting up a wild finish.
Sidney Crosby tried desperately to end the game in the final shift of the third period, weaving his way around the offensive zone. Andy Hilbert ultimately poked the puck away from Crosby to create a 3-on-2 break for the Islanders. Trent Hunter grabbed the puck and fed Hilbert, who found Mike Sillinger. Using defenseman Mark Eaton as a screen, Sillinger wristed the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury with 26.8 seconds remaining in the game. It was Sillinger's 20th goal of the season. The goal stopped the Penguins' streak of points in 16 consecutive games.
Blake's goal was his 28th of the season, putting him one shy of his career high in a season, which he set last year. Simon earned first star of the game honors with two goals and Randy Robitaille chipped in with three assists. Playing in his first game with the Islanders, Marc-Andre Bergeron added two assists, including one on the power play.
The Islanders move from one big test to the next, taking on Mats Sundin and the Leafs tonight at home. The last time these two teams met, Rick DiPietro stole the show, stopping 39 of 41 shots. Frans Nielsen and Viktor Kozlov scored in the subsequent shootout as the Islanders went on to win 3-2.
Since then, the Leafs have gone 2-1, defeating Philadelphia and Boston before falling to Boston on Tuesday 3-0.
Chris King and Steve Mears have the call on Bloomberg Radio 1130, while Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe can be seen tonight on FSN NY 2.
To locate FSN NY 2 in you area, click here.
For those of you not in the New York area, you can catch King and Mears' Bloomberg Radio broadcast on XM Satellite Radio, channel 209.
Islanders - 66 points, 3rd place, Atlantic Division
Toronto - 66 points, 4th place, Northeast Division
Islanders Jason Blake, 28 goals, 51 points; Mike Sillinger, 26; Brendan Witt, 107 PIM
Toronto Mats Sundin, 25 goals, 55 points; Tomas Kaberle, 38 assists; Wade Belak, 105 PIM
Islanders - Power play: 15.6 percent. Penalty killing: 80.4 percent
Toronto - Power play: 18.8 percent. Penalty killing: 79.2 percent
Islanders Rick DiPietro (25-18-5, 2.65 GAA, .916 SV%); Mike Dunham 4-5-3, 2.90, .911)
Toronto Andrew Raycroft (27-18-6, 2.92, .898); Jean-Sebastien Aubin (2-4-2, 3.51, .877)
Islanders: 2 pts. Toronto: 3 pts.
February 13, 2007 at the Air Canada Centre: 3-2 Islanders shootout win
Islanders: 17-10-3 at home
Toronto: 15-10-4 on the road
1 Mike Dunham
39 Rick DiPietro
3 Tom Poti
6 Sean Hill
8 Bruno Gervais
14 Chris Campoli
32 Brendan Witt
44 Freddy Meyer
47 Marc-Andre Bergeron
7 Trent Hunter
10 Richard Park
11 Andy Hilbert
12 Chris Simon
15 Jeff Tambellini
18 Mike Sillinger
25 Viktor Kozlov
27 Randy Robitaille
45 Arron Asham
51 Frans Nielsen
55 Jason Blake
81 Miroslav Satan
1 Andrew Raycroft
30 Jean-Sebastien Aubin
3 Wade Belak
7 Ian White
8 Carl Colaiacovo
15 Tomas Kaberle
24 Bryan McCabe
25 Hal Gill
31 Pavel Kubina
36 Brendan Bell
56 Andy Wozniewski
10 Alex Steen
13 Mats Sundin
14 Matthew Stajan
18 Chad Kilger
21 John Pohl
22 Boyd Devereaux
23 Alexei Ponikarovsky
33 Bates Battaglia
39 Travis Green
80 Nik Antropov
92 Jeff O'Neill
* (ANOTHER) BIG GAME - Islanders and Leafs tied going into Thursday's matchup