NEW YORK ISLANDERS (38-22-9) VS. DALLAS STARS (42-21-9)
8 P.M. AMERICAN AIRLINES CENTER, MSG+, WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM
1. CIZIKAS DAY-TO-DAY:
After missing Thursday's game with an upper-body injury, Casey Cizikas is back in for the Islanders on Saturday.
It reunites the Islanders’ highly-effective fourth line, as Cizikas has centered Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck for a majority of the season. The Islanders also get one of their best penalty kilers back Saturday, as the 25-year-old is one of the team’s top top shorthanded options.
In addition to his defensive responsibilities, Cizikas is having a career-year offensively with 18 assists and 25 points. The Toronto, ON native recently set up Clutterbuck’s game-winner against the Rangers on March 8, calling an audible for Clutterbuck to switch wings before Cizikas passed to him off the draw.
Read Islanders' Day-To-Day for more on Cizikas and Saturday's lines.
2. SEGUIN OUT 3-4 WEEKS:
Tyler Seguin will miss the next three-to-four weeks with a cut on his Achilles Tendon, the Stars announced Friday. The Stars’ center suffered a 15% cut into his Achilles on Thursday night in Dallas’ 4-3 win over Tampa Bay.
Seguin, who forms one of the most explosive tag-teams in the league with linemate Jamie Benn, has 73 points (33G, 40A) this season, good for third in league scoring. It’s a big blow for the Central Division-leading Stars, but General Manager Jim Nill expects Seguin to be back for the playoffs. Cody Eakin took Seguin’s spot on the top line at Friday’s practice.
3. KLINGBERG COULD PLAY:
While the Stars lost Seguin for the next three-to-four weeks, defenseman John Klingberg could return to the Stars’ lineup after missing six games with a lower-body injury. The 23-year-old Swede is the NHL’s third highest-scoring defensemen with 53 points (10G, 43A) in 66 games this season. Klingberg has set a career-high in points, but is one goal shy of matching his output from last season.
4. ISLES-STARS II:
The Islanders and Stars meet for the second and final time this season. The Islanders won a 6-5 thriller in Brooklyn on Jan. 3, part of their recent 4-0-1 run over the Stars. The lone loss came last season at American Airlines Center, but not before Anders Lee forced OT with 1.1 seconds to play in the third period.
5. WHAT IT MEANS:
The Islanders (85 points) enter Saturday with a one point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins (84 points), but that could change after the Penguins play the Philadelphia Flyers (80 points) in a Saturday matinee. Depending on the result, the Islanders will either be looking leapfrog the Penguins, or recreate the separation in the standings they enjoyed a few days earlier. Either way, it’s a big two points and the Islanders will keep their game in hand over Pittsburgh.
The Islanders also enter Saturday three points back of the New York Rangers (88 points), but with two games in hand. The Rangers play the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.
Dallas (93 points) is looking to stay atop the Central Division, holding a two point advantage over the St. Louis Blues (91 points) and a three-point lead on the Chicago Blackhawks (90 points). The Stars are also competing for the top spot in the Western Conference, holding a two-point lead on the LA Kings (91 points), but the Kings have two games in hand.
6. VS. THE WEST:
The Islanders wrap up their Western Conference schedule on Saturday. The Islanders have dominated the Western Conference this season, going 19-6-2 vs. the West, including 9-3-1 against the Central Division.