Islanders (32-23-8) vs. St. Louis (27-27-9)
(7:30 p.m. ET, TV: FSN NY | Radio: Bloomberg 1130) The new-look Islanders, with Ryan Smyth in the lineup, wrap-up their seven-game home stand tonight against the St. Louis Blues.
After an emotional departure from Edmonton, Smyth has arrived on Long Island and will debut with the Islanders tonight as they go for five wins in a row. Ted Nolan said this morning that Smyth would play on a line with Jason Blake and Randy Robitaille. The Islanders have gone 5-1 during this current home stand and look to make it 6-1 when they play their final Western Conference foe of the regular season.
With the acquisition of Smyth, the Islanders have three former Oilers, including Tom Poti and Marc-Andre Bergeron, who both spent time playing with the former Canadian Olympic captain.
The Islanders experienced an emotional trade deadline on Tuesday and their play that night was indicative of the exciting day. The Islanders jumped out to a 4-1 lead over the last-place Islanders, with Blake recording his fourth career hat trick in the opening 20 minutes. It appeared as if the Islanders would cruise, with Richard Zednik playing in the lineup for the first time.
However, the Flyers fought back and overcame the deficit in the third period to tie the game at five. But the Islanders have been resilient all season long, especially late in games. After Marc-Andre Bergeron drew a penalty late in the overtime period, Mike Sillinger found Trent Hunter in the slot and the game was over with less than a minute to go. The Islanders turned a potential disaster into an exciting but sloppy two points.
Blake increased his career-high to 32 goals and is now one point away from achieving his career high in points of 57. Viktor Kozlov is also one goal shy of his career high of 22 goals set during the 2002-03 season.
Thanks to help from some other competitors, the Islanders jumped from ninth to a tie for seventh with Montreal in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders have games in hand on most of the teams surrounding them in the standings and are only two points behind Atlanta and three back of Pittsburgh.
While the building in the Nassau Coliseum is guaranteed to be electric with the arrival of Smyth and the playoff push, the Islanders will focus on the task at hand taking on the Blues.
This Blues team looked much different before the trade deadline having traded away their two top scorers Bill Guerin and Keith Tkachuk. In the trades, the Blues acquired Glen Metropolit from Atlanta and Brad Boyes from Boston.
While the Blues might not have the firepower they did a week ago, the Islanders found out the hard way, when they let the Flyers back in the game Tuesday, what a young team with nothing to lose can do if your guard is let down.
The Blues' leading goal scorer is now New York-native Lee Stempniak, who has 19 goals in 63 games. Veteran Doug Weight is also still in the mix, leading the team with 47 points.
Starting netminder Manny Legace is day-to-day with a lower body injury giving back-up Curtis Sanford a chance to prove himself in goal. He did so in St. Louis' 3-1 win over Vancouver on Tuesday where Sanford stopped 26 of 27 shots. Weight provided two goals in the third period as the Blues climbed back to the .500 mark for the season.
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.
For those of you not in the New York area, you can catch King and Mears' Bloomberg Radio broadcast on XM Satellite Radio, channel 205.
BELOW ARE CHANNEL LISTINGS FOR FSN NY ON LONG ISLAND
FSN NY: 72
FSN NY: 624
FSN NY: 413
FSN NY: 725
CAREER NHL MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
- Jason Blake is a point away from tying his career-high of 57
- Viktor Kozlov is a goal away from tying his career-high of 22.
- Brendan Witt is a point away from 100.
- Shawn Bates is two points away from 200.
- Rick DiPietro is six games from 200.
Islanders - 72 points, 3rd place, Atlantic Division
St. Louis - 63 points, 3rd place, Central Division
Islanders Jason Blake, 32 goals, 56 points; Mike Sillinger, 28 assists; Brendan Witt, 111 PIM
St. Louis Lee Stempniak, 19 goals; Doug Weight, 34 assists, 42 points; Jamal Mayers, 68 PIM
Islanders - Power play: 15.8 percent. Penalty killing: 80.5 percent
St. Louis - Power play: 13.6 percent. Penalty killing: 81.9 percent
Islanders Rick DiPietro (28-18-5, 2.66 GAA, .914 SV%); Mike Dunham (4-5-3, 2.90, .911)
St. Louis Manny Legace (23-15-5, 2.59, .907); Curtis Sanford (4-8-3, 3.10, .888); Jason Bacashihua (0-3-1, 3.43, .896)
2005-06 SEASON SERIES
Islanders 18-10-4 at home
St. Louis 11-12-6 on the road
1 Mike Dunham
39 Rick DiPietro
3 Tom Poti
6 Sean Hill
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
18 Mike Sillinger
20 Richard Zednik
25 Viktor Kozlov
27 Randy Robitaille
45 Arron Asham
55 Jason Blake
81 Miroslav Satan
94 Ryan Smyth
1 Curtis Sanford
30 Jason Bacashihua
34 Manny Legace
4 Eric Brewer
5 Barret Jackman
27 Bryce Salvador
28 Matt Walker
29 Jeff Woywitka
55 Christian Backman
74 Jay McKee
9 Jay McClement
10 Dallas Drake
12 Lee Stempniak
15 Peter Sejna
17 Ryan Johnson
18 Radek Dvorak
21 Jamal Mayers
22 Glen Metropolit
26 Petr Cajanek
32 Ville Nieminen
38 Brad Boyes
39 Doug Weight
42 David Backes