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At the Rink: Canucks at Islanders

by David Satriano

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders have made a recent habit of scoring quickly. In four of their past six games, they’ve scored 1:11 or less into the game.

The Vancouver Canucks, in the midst of a five-game road trip, have allowed their opponents to score first in three straight games.

“We need a good start,” Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. “You just have a better record if you score first. They are a good team. You don’t want top have to play catch-up on them.”

New York was defeated by the Washington Capitals 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday. The Islanders are 8-2-0 in the second game of back-to-back games this season and are finishing a stretch of five games in seven days on Sunday against the Canucks.

“What separates good teams is their ability to find a way and mentally to be ready to play,” Islanders captain John Tavares said. “It’s been a heck of a week and we need to kind of keep it going."

The Islanders are 21-7-0 at home, and even though they don’t play the Canucks that often, coach Jack Capuano is expecting a difficult game.

“They have some crafty skilled guys,” Capuano said. “The Sedins (Henrik and Daniel) obviously, (Radim) Vrbata, and you go down their list and they shoot pucks. They do a good job in the offensive zone the way they play.

“We are back in our building which is huge for us and we’re playing a good team.”

The Canucks were defeated by the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Friday, and said they have another tough game on Sunday.

“This whole road trip has been a big test for us,” Canucks winger, and Smithtown, Long Island native Chris Higgins said. “We are missing a couple of key guys. It will be a big test for us tonight.”

Vancouver, already without several of their top defenseman, will be without winger Alexander Burrows for the second straight game.

Forward Derek Dorsett, who spent last season with the New York Rangers before signing with the Canucks this offseason, has seen the Islanders plenty.

“They’ve made good trades to get (defenseman Johnny) Boychuck and (Nick) Leddy and (goalie Jaroslav) Halak has been playing good for them so, they are pretty deep throughout their lineup and they are a hard working team,” Dorsett said. “A couple of years ago when they made the playoffs, you could see it and they’ve kept that mentality and I think they’ve gotten some better players and it shows. They are obviously one of the top teams in the league.”

Halak has 32 wins and is one shy of becoming the franchise leader for victories in a season.

“[He brings] consistency and work ethic and his competitiveness,” Tavares said. “Not only making big saves in games but making us better shooters in practice. That desire to not get scored against makes us better, too.” Tavares said.

Here are the projected lineups:


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Zack Kassian

Chris Higgins - Shawn Matthias - Radim Vrbata

Brandon McMillan - Linden Vey - Derek Dorsett

Ronalds Kenins - Bo Horvat - Jannik Hansen

Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber

Luca Sbisa - Alex Biega

Ryan Stanton - Adam Clendening

Ryan Miller

Eddie Lack

Scratched: Bobby Sanguinetti, Nick Bonino, Nicklas Jensen

Injured: Alexandre Burrows (lower body), Alexander Edler (upper body), Frank Corrado (upper body), Kevin Bieksa (broken hand), Brad Richardson (ankle), Christopher Tanev (upper body)


Anders Lee - John Tavares - Josh Bailey

Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Ryan Strome

Nikolay Kulemin - Brock Nelson - Cal Clutterbuck

Matt Martin - Kael Mouillierat - Colin McDonald

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk

Lubomir Visnovsky - Thomas Hickey

Calvin de Haan - Travis Hamonic

Jaroslav Halak

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Matt Donovan, Brian Strait

Injured: Mikhail Grabovski (upper body), Casey Cizikas (lower body), Kyle Okposo (upper body), Eric Boulton (lower body)

Status report: Halak will be in net after Johnson started on Saturday. Visnovsky will be in the lineup after sitting out Saturday, in place of Strait. … Miller will make his 44th start of the season after sitting out on Friday.

Who's hot: Tavares has points in five straight games (five goals, six assists). … Strome has four goals and is a plus-six in his past five games. … Horvat has four goals in his past eight games. … Henrik Sedin has three goals and six points and brother Daniel has five assists in their past three games.

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