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At the Rink: Islanders at Oilers

by Derek Van Diest /

EDMONTON -- Despite their disparity in the standings, the New York Islanders are not taking the Edmonton Oilers lightly Sunday, in the third of a seven-game road trip.

The Islanders (26-11-1) began the road trip with victories at the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames, and are looking to extend their current win streak to four games overall.

Edmonton (8-22-9) has two wins in its past 24 games, and are looking to avoid a three-game losing streak.

“The games I’ve watched they haven’t struggled,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “They played very well [Friday] night; they beat L.A. here in this rink. They’ve made some changes, they’ve got a couple of veterans now, they sent some young guys back; their goaltending is good.

“I don’t look at records. That’s the last thing I do. I look at their work ethic, I look at the structure of their hockey team, I look at their personnel, I look at their captain, [Andrew] Ference on the back end, who’s won a championship, and understand what it takes. You have to be your best every single night and we just have to worry about how we have to play.”

The Islanders will not make any changes to the lineup following a 2-1 victory in Calgary on Friday. Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak will get the start in search of his 22nd win of the season.

“He’s played extremely well,” Capuano said. “We monitor his rest and how he goes about his daily routine. We feel confident in him right now and he feels confident in himself, obviously. For me, if he’s rested and he’s healthy and he’s ready to go, we’ll continue to play him.”

The game against the Islanders is the first of a four-game home stand for Edmonton.

Right wing Rob Klinkhammer will make his debut for the Oilers on Sunday, acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in trade, along with a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, for forward David Perron.

Klinkhammer has 4 goals and 2 assists in 29 games this season. It’s the second time he’s been traded this season, starting the year with the Arizona Coyotes.

“It’s kind of funny, it’s not the first time this has happened to me and I don’t think it’ll be the last,” Klinkhammer said. “I’m looking forward to breaking in some new gear and getting used to some new guys. I played with [Boyd Gordon] in Arizona during the lockout year, and I played with Keith Aulie in Brandon in junior, so I know a couple of the guys which always helps make the transition a little smoother.”

Klinkhammer is the third player acquired by the Oilers since the Christmas break. He joins recent acquisitions Derek Roy and Matt Fraser in the Edmonton lineup.

The Oilers announced Sunday center Leon Draisaitl has been assigned to the Canadian Hockey League where he’s expected to join the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League at the conclusion of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championships.

Draisaitl, 19, scored two goals and seven assist in 37 games for Edmonton this season.

“Every player, when they go down to a lower level, you want them to work on some of the skills that they need to get better at this level,” Oilers coach Todd Nelson said. “In the case of Leon, I thought his foot speed through the neutral zone got better and that’s one thing he has to continue to work on, but also develop the confidence to find the back of the net. He has that ability, he’s a great passer, but I’d like to see him shoot the puck more, but that goes for everybody in that locker room.”

Goaltender Ben Scrivens will make his fourth-consecutive start in goal for Edmonton.

Here are the projected lineups:


Josh Bailey - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Mikhail Grabovski - Brock Nelson - Nikolay Kulemin

Anders Lee - Frans Nielsen - Ryan Strome

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk

Thomas Hickey - Lubomir Visnovsky

Calvin de Haan - Travis Hamonic

Jaroslav Halak

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Eric Boulton, Matt Donovan, Brian Strait

Injured: Michael Grabner (lower body), Matt Carkner (back).


Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Benoit Pouliot - Derek Roy - Teddy Purcell

Nail Yakupov - Anton Lander - Matt Fraser

Matt Hendricks - Boyd GordonRob Klinkhammer

Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry

Oscar Klefbom - Mark Fayne

Nikita Nikitin - Justin Schultz

Ben Scrivens

Viktor Fasth

Scratched: Luke Gazdic

Suspended: Keith Aulie

Injured: Tyler Pitlick (lacerated spleen)

Status report: Carkner and Grabner are both with the Islanders on their current seven-game road trip and are skating with the team, but have yet to be activated from injured reserve. … With Draisaitl going back to juniors, center Anton Lander, recalled from the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL on Jan. 1, will take his place in the lineup.

Who’s hot: Strome has seven points (1 goal, 6 assist) in his past three games. Tavares scored both goals in the win against Calgary on Friday. … Eberle has a goal and an assist in his past two games.

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