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Preview: Islanders vs. Ducks

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders

NEW YORK ISLANDERS (18-11-5) VS. ANAHEIM DUCKS (12-14-5)

7 P.M. BARCLAYS CENTER, MSG+, CHANNEL FINDERWNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM

FIVE THINGS:

1. BREAK TIME:

Due to the NHL’s Christmas break, the Islanders won’t play again until Sunday, giving the players five days off. The players will disperse to their respective home towns for a few days of rest and relaxation. 

The Islanders want to head into the break on the right note, especially after losing their last three games, including Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. 

“Things aren’t coming easy right now, but the first reaction is to work even harder,” Thomas Hickey said. “Sometimes you just need to step back and take a deep breath first and refocus. We have guys who can score up and down our lineup, so that’s not an issue. Just refocus and know we’re okay.”

2. NO OKPOSO:

The Islanders will be without Kyle Okposo for a second straight game, who is nursing a nagging lower-body injury. Okposo is the Islanders leading scorer with 26 points (8G, 18A). In his absence, Jack Capuano juggled his lines, playing Anders Lee and Josh Bailey alongside John Tavares. 

SATURDAY'S LINES:

ANDERS LEE JOHN TAVARES JOSH BAILEY
BROCK NELSON FRANS NIELSEN RYAN STROME
NIKOLAY KULEMIN MIKHAIL GRABOVSKI STEVE BERNIER
MATT MARTIN CASEY CIZIKAS CAL CLUTTERBUCK




3. PENALTY KILL: 

The Islanders penalty kill hasn’t allowed a goal in 12 straight games, tying a team record. Most recently, the shorthanded unit went 2-for-2, extending its streak to 28-for-28. The Islanders did not allow a power-play goal for 12 straight games between March 3 and 28 earlier this calendar year.  

4. SITTING DUCKS: 

The Anaheim Ducks’ struggles are one of the more interesting – and perplexing – storylines of the NHL season. Last season, the Ducks finished atop the Western Conference with 51 wins and 109 points. Through 31 games this season, the Ducks are in last place in the West. 

Despite two proven superstars in Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, the Ducks are last in the NHL with 1.84 goals per game, down nearly a goal from last season when they were 11th. Getzlaf and Perry’s numbers are down, but Getzlaf’s are especially troubling. The Ducks’ captain has one goal in 27 games this season and while he can explode for points at any time – he had five assists against the Calgary Flames on Nov. 24 – but has been held pointless in 17 games this season, including his last three. Perry – a former 50-goal scorer – has 10 in 31 games and leads the Ducks with 20 points.  

5. LAST TIME OUT - ISLANDERS 4, DUCKS 1:

The Islanders won the previous meeting between the teams in Southern California 4-1. Frans Nielsen scored twice in the third period. Josh Bailey and Anders Lee each had a pair of assists on Nielsen’s goals. Thomas Greiss made 24 saves in the win, while Anton Khudobin saddled with the loss. Khudobin was sent to San Diego (AHL) on Dec. 15, so the Islanders will face either Frederik Andersen – who is coming off a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils – or John Gibson, who has a 1.90 goals-against average in nine games this season. 

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