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Preview: Islanders vs. Rangers

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders

NEW YORK ISLANDERS (23-15-5) VS. NEW YORK ISLANDERS (23-14-5)

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

FIVE THINGS:

1. SEASON SERIES:

The Islanders took the team’s first meeting of the season 2-1 in a shootout, also their first-ever meeting at Barclays Center. Kyle Okposo scored the lone shootout goal, while John Tavares scored the Islanders only tally in regulation. This is the last meeting between the teams at Barclays Center this season.

ISLES DAY-TO-DAY: HALAK IN GOAL, UPDATES FROM MORNING SKATE

2. JAROSLAV HALAK:

The Islanders are going to their big dog on Thursday, as Jaroslav Halak will start in goal vs. the Rangers. Halak started all five Islanders-Rangers games last season going 3-2 and made 33 saves in the Islanders win over the Rangers in December. Halak’s strong play vs. the Rangers has been the Islanders’ answer to Henrik Lundqvist. In the past, Lundqvist gave the Rangers a distinct advantage in goal, but Halak is 4-0-0 in the head-to-head matchup between the netminders. In six games vs. the Rangers, Halak has allowed two goals or fewer in four of the contests.

READ: HALAK STEPS UP VS. RANGERS

3. BROCK NELSON:

Brock Nelson scored his first-career hat-trick on Tuesday, part of a four-point night for the 24-year-old. Nelson netted his 15th, 16th and 17th goals of the season, becoming the Islanders goals leader in the process, two ahead of John Tavares. Nelson has become one of Jack Capuano’s most versatile pieces, shifting between both wings and the center position, while also killing penalties and playing on the second power-play unit. 


4. NEW YORK RANGERS: 

The Rangers enter Thursday’s game 2-0-1 in their last three games, taking five-of-six points against Dallas, Washington and Boston. Mats Zuccarello leads the Rangers with 16 goals and 32 points, though the 5’7 winger is in a cold spell, with just a goal and an assist in his last six games. Derick Brassard, the Rangers second-leading scorer, has a three-game point streak (2G, 1A).


5. LUNDQVIST STARTS: 

Henrik Lundqvist will start against the Islanders on Thursday, marking the goaltender’s 10th consecutive start. The Rangers’ netminder is 19-11-4 this season, with a 2.49 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. Lundqvist made 36 saves in the Islanders and Rangers first meeting of the season, but the Islanders have now beaten Lundqvist in four straight games. 

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