NEW YORK ISLANDERS (37-20-7) VS. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (21-33-11)
7 P.M. AIR CANADA CENTRE, MSG+, WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM
1. STREAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME:
The Islanders have won four straight, seven of their last eight and are 11-2-1 in their last 14 games. Currently third in the Metropolitan Division, the Islanders are three points back of the New York Rangers with three games in hand and five points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins with a pair of games in hand. The Islanders have 18 games left in the regular season.
2. HALAK LEAVES GAME WITH INJURY:
Jaroslav Halak left Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins with 4:22 remaining, appearing to injure his lower body after stretching out for a shot. Halak made 31 saves before exiting the game and was replaced by Thomas Greiss, who stopped all three shots he saw in the closing minutes.
Jack Capuano did not have any updates on Halak’s status postgame, but Greiss is likely to start Wednesday in Toronto. It should be noted that Capuano usually splits his goalies in back-to-back situations, so Greiss was the likely starter before Halak’s injury. Greiss is 18-6-3 with a 2.21 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.
“He’s played great,” John Tavares said of Greiss. “He’s come in and been huge for us. We have three great goalies. [JF Berube] has a lot of potential. He hasn’t seen a lot of action, but when he’s been in there too, he’s been stellar. We’re in a position of strength there. We’re confident in all three.”
3. ANDERS LEE:
Anders Lee is finding his scoring touch for the Islanders, scoring in three of his last four games, and bringing a four-game point streak (3G, 2A) to Toronto. Lee had the game-winner against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night, deflecting Nick Leddy’s point shot past Marc-Andre Fleury. The 25-year-old’s office is in front of the net, as he tends to score on deflections and rebounds around the paint. He paid the price on Tuesday, taking a series of whacks from Kris Letang, but that’s what his coach loves about his game.
“He's fearless,” Jack Capuano said. “It’s sacrifice. Other guys don’t do it, other guys need to do it. He stands there and it doesn’t matter if it's (Johnny) Boychuk, (Ryan) Pulock, (Marek) Zidlicky, guys with big shots, they are firing and he’s just one of those guys.”
Lee has 31 points (12G, 19A) in 64 games this season.
4. SEASON SERIES:
Tied 1-1, the Islanders and Maple Leafs will decide their season series on Wednesday night.
So far, the road team has won each game, the Maple Leafs winning 3-1 in Brooklyn, two nights before a 6-3 Islanders win in Toronto. John Tavares, Frans Nielsen and Anders Lee each had a goal and an assist in the win, while Greiss stopped 30-of-33.
5. RAKING IN DRAFT PICKS:
The Toronto Maple Leafs have lost six straight (0-5-1) and rank last in the NHL with 53 points entering Wednesday’s action. These are tough times for the Leafs, but this season is part of a major rebuild for the blue and white, who recently parted ways with captain Dion Phaneuf and goalie James Reimer. The rebuild is being led by head coach Mike Babcock, General Manager Lou Lamorillo and President Brendan Shanahan, who are looking to the future and stockpiling draft picks. As of today, the Leafs have 12 picks – including two first-rounders – at the 2016 NHL Draft.
6. LEAFS NOTES:
Defenseman Matt Hunwick will have season-ending hernia surgery… Garret Sparks will start in goal… Brad Boyes is expected to miss the game with a shoulder injury… PA Parenteau is expected to return from a five-game absence… Leo Komarov leads the Leafs with 19 goals and 36 points and is third in the NHL with 268 hits.