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New York Islanders vs. Washington Capitals

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
Team Record: 3-5-2

Last Game: 3-0 L vs. WPG
Season Series: 0 of 4
Team Record: 9-2-0
Last Game: 5-1 W vs. CAR
Season Series: 0 of 4
The Islanders offense
Playing a professional sport is just as much a mental game as it is about your athletic abilities. That’s why it’s so tough on a player and a team when they go on a six-game slide.

“This game is more mental than anything and it only builds character when you go through things like this,” Islanders center Josh Bailey said.

But Bailey is optimistic, saying he and his teammates have worked real hard and are trying to look at all the positives.

“We have 72 games left and I think we have been playing pretty decent hockey the last few games,” Bailey said. “We just have to find to get the puck in the back of the net. When you look at the big picture we’re not all in that bad of a position, we do believe in what we have in here and we’re a highly skilled team.”

He added, “At some point it’s going to click and come together and when it does we are going to be a very dangerous team to play against.”
Nicklas Backstrom
Backstrom has averaged more than a point-per-game, scoring five goals and 11 assists (16 points) in 11 games. As a result, he’s in a three-way tie for third place on the league's scoring leader board and his nine power play points are tied for first in the league.

Tuesday night, Backstrom scored the Capitals game-tying goal against the Anaheim Ducks with 42 seconds remaining in regulation and then notched the winning goal at 2:18 of overtime. He addeda goal and an assist in the Caps 5-1 win over the Hurricanes Friday night.

Dennis Wideman
Joining the Capitals at the trade deadline last season, Wideman was the kind of defenseman the franchise was missing. He’s currently tied for seventh on the league’s defensive scoring leader board with three goals and seven assists (11 points). The blue liner had a goal and an assist in the Capitals 5-4 OT win over the Ducks on Tuesday.
When the puck drops later this evening, look for new line combinations to start generating more points offensively.

After Thursday night's shutout loss to the Winnipeg Jets, Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano told the media that he had given the players enough time to start producing with the same lines that they'd seen success in the past. As a result, he was going to change the line combinations, hoping that would spark the offensive production the team has been lacking.

On Friday, Capuano said he had an idea of the lines, but still could tinker with a few players. Adding, “I just want to make sure certain guys complement one another in the roles they play and how they play those roles.”

Even though he’s disappointed the Isles have been hard-pressed to put up points, Capuano has liked the team’s effort and what he’s seen of their systems.

“I feel good about the systems,” Capuano said. “We got our chances when we started establishing our forecheck. We were in the right place at the right times, we were moving our feet, using our points, getting pucks to the net, bodies to the net. It doesn’t matter who you play with, you still have to do those little things, it’s all part of the game that we play.”
Season Series: The teams are meeting for the first of four times this season. Washington swept the season series in 2010-11, winning all four games by one goal.

Big Story: Talk about two teams going in opposite directions. The Caps have won two in a row and nine of their first 11, including Friday's 5-1 whipping of the Hurricanes in Carolina. Meanwhile, the Islanders are 0-4-2 in their last six games and haven't scored more than two goals in any of those games. They've played seven of their first 10 at home -- but have been blanked in three of the seven.

Team Scope:
Remember the controversy over Alex Ovechkin not being on the ice in the final minute on Tuesday? It has passed like a winter snow flurry after the Caps followed their comeback win against Anaheim with a dominating performance at Carolina. Ovechkin had a pair of assists and five players had goals, including the first NHL tally by rookie Cory Eakin, who got the full shaving-cream-in-the-face treatment from Ovechkin. (Continue Reading)

When the Islanders and Capitals last met on March 1, 2011, Matt Moulson scored the Isles lone goal to take a 1-0 lead through the second period. Brooks Laich tied the score in the third period and Alexander Ovechkin scored the go-ahead goal in overtime to hand the Isles a 2-1 decision.
- Mark Katic - Shoulder (9/24 vs. NJ) - 10 games missed (Out indefinitely)

- Rhett Rakhshani - Concussion (9/27 at CGY) - 10 games missed (Out indefinitely)
Power Play %: 19.4%
Penalty Kill %: 86.1%
Home Record: 3-3-1
Road Record: 0-2-1
Goals For: 18
Goals Against: 26
Power Play %: 24.4%
Penalty Kill %: 77.5%
Home Record: 6-0-0
Road Record: 3-2-0
Goals For: 45
Goals Against: 28
(Answer from 11/03: Mike Bossy. Bossy recorded the Islanders first goal against the original Jets in the teams’ first meeting, a 4-4 tie on Nov. 4, 1979. If you guessed Yvon Vautour, you were close as he scored the franchises’ next two goals against the Jets.)
Check out the Islanders depth chart. Capuano changed lines as expected, Rick DiPietro is back in net with Al Montoya backing up, Mike Mottau a healthy scratch. Defensive pairings will change throughout the game.

Capitals (Expected) Lineups
Forwards:  Chimera-Laich-Semin, Ovechkin-Backstrom-Ward, Eakin-Johansson-Brouwer, Halpern-Hendricks-Knuble

Defensemen:  Hamrlik-Erskine, Carlson-Wideman, Alzner-Schultz

Goaltenders:  Vokoun, Neuvirth

Expected Scratches: King, Green, Beagle, Perreault

Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano after Thursday night's 3-0 loss to Winnipeg: "I don’t know if it’s a breaking point, but to me, we talked about it as a coaching staff. Come Saturday night, if we have to play three lines, we’ll play three lines. If we have to play five defensemen, we'll play five defensemen. We have to win a game. Guys have gotten a chance, they got the minutes they wanted. I’m proud of the effort they are giving every night, but there’s something that’s not working there. We have to look at it and change it up a little. We’ve given guys an opportunity to play with one another and it’s been successful in the past, but it’s not working so it’s something that we have to look at."

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