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Preview: Islanders vs. Wild

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders

NEW YORK ISLANDERS (25-16-6) VS. MINNESOTA WILD (23-17-9)

7 P.M. BARCLAYS CENTER, MSG+2, CHANNEL FINDERWNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM, NICK LEDDY BOBBLEHEAD NIGHT

FIVE THINGS:

1. BERUBE STARTS VS. WILD

Jean-Francois Berube will start for the Islanders on Tuesday night. Berube, the Islanders' third goalie, was very active during the team's all-star break, going 4-0 with a 0.97 goals-against average and a .967 save percentage with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. 

The idea: ride the hot hand and the guy who is in a rhythm. The same also applies to Scott Mayfield, who is back in the Islanders' lineup on Tuesday as well. Like Berube, Mayfield spent the NHL all-star break down in Bridgeport getting reps. Head Coach Jack Capuano added that with the Islanders' intense schedule coming up - 35 games in 68 days - he plans on giving younger players some extra games to keep everyone both engaged and fresh. 

Read more at Isles Day-To-Day.

2. ISLES VS. WILD TO START SECOND HALF:

The Islanders and Wild play the first of two meetings this season on Tuesday night. They meet again in Minnesota in three weeks on February 23. 

The Islanders lost the season series last year, going 0-1-1. They felt they deserved to win the most recent meeting, a 2-1 shootout loss where they held a sizable territorial advantage against Minnesota. 

Tuesday's game kicks off a busy second half for the Islanders, who have 35 games in 68 days. 

"We have to be ready to play and understand how crucial each point is," John Tavares said. "You see how tight the standings are. There's no easing back into things. We have to get off to a good start."

3. NICK LEDDY BOBBLEHEAD NIGHT:

Tuesday is Nick Leddy Bobblehead Night at Barclays Center. The first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a bobblehead. 

4. PLAYOFF PICTURE:

As the third seed in the Metropolitan Division, the Islanders are more secure in their playoff push. The Islanders are three points back of the New York Rangers, but have two games in hand, so second place – and home ice advantage in the playoffs – is within reach. 

While the ninth-place New Jersey Devils are one point back of the Islanders, New York holds three games in hand, so the Islanders have a chance to widen the gap and pad their playoff cushion. The Pittsburgh Penguins are the more immediate concern, as the Penguins – who occupy the second Wild Card – are also one point back and the Islanders have just one game in hand. 

After a 1-6-1 stretch heading into the All-Star Break, the Minnesota Wild start the second half outside of the Western Conference playoffs, one point back of the Nashville Predators for the second Wild Card berth, though with games in hand on the Predators and Colorado. 

The bottom line: a crowded western Wild Card means every game is vital for Minnesota. Expect two motivated teams on Tuesday.

5. WILD SPECIAL TEAMS:

The Minnesota Wild rank in the bottom third of the NHL in both special teams categories. Their power play is 24th, converting at 17.1%, while the penalty kill is 20th with an 80% kill-rate. The Wild went 11 straight games without a power-play goal before scoring in back-to-back games in LA and San Jose. They seemed to turned a corner, but went 0-for-2 vs. Arizona and surrendered a shorthanded goal, suggesting the Wild aren’t out of the woods yet. 

As for the penalty kill, the Wild have stayed consistent throughout the season. They have killed 17 of their last 20 penalties (80%). 

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