There was a time when the New York Islanders dreaded facing the Washington Capitals. Those days have disappeared.
New York (16-15-2) looks for its 10th win in 13 games against the Capitals on Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders' 9-2-1 record over their last 12 versus the Capitals represents quite a turnaround. From April 12, 1997-Dec. 2, 2003, New York went 1-24-1 with three ties against Washington (13-19-13) and was outscored 108-57.
The teams have split two games this season, with each winning on the road and neither squad carries much momentum into this game.
The Islanders were 2-7-1 in their last 10 prior to Friday, but won 4-2 in Pittsburgh to avenge a loss to the Penguins earlier in the week.
Rookie Blake Comeau - recalled by the Islanders to replace Chris Simon, who was suspended a league-record 30 games on Wednesday - scored his first career goal to put the Islanders up 3-2 midway through the third.
"(Center) Andy (Hilbert) did a great job of getting me the puck," said Comeau, who also had an assist. "When I looked to the net, I heard guys yelling 'Shoot.' So I put my head down and tried to put it on net as hard as I could and it ended up going in."
New York is looking for consecutive wins for the first time since Nov. 16-19.
Rick DiPietro, who stopped 24 shots against the Penguins, is 7-3-1 lifetime against Washington with a 2.00 goals-against average.
The Islanders have scored a league-low 75 goals, and the four in Pittsburgh were the most since a 4-0 win against Tampa Bay on Nov. 1 - a stretch of 22 games. That also was the last time New York had won by more than one goal before Friday.
Washington is 1-2-1 in its last four games, but has played its best hockey of the season since Bruce Bourdreau took over as interim coach for the fired Glen Hanlon on Nov. 22. The Capitals have gone 7-5-2 under Boudreau after Hanlon led them to a 6-14-1 start.
After losing 4-3 in a shootout to league-leading Detroit on Monday, Washington fell 5-2 at home to Montreal on Thursday despite outshooting the Canadiens 37-21.
"I thought we played a pretty good hockey game," Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig told the team's official Web site. "It seemed like every shot they had was a chance that ended up in the net. It's an awful feeling."
Kolzig hadn't allowed five goals since a 5-1 loss to Atlanta on Nov. 21.
Despite the consecutive losses, one positive sign for Washington has been Alexander Semin, who enters having scored in consecutive games for the first time this season. Ankle injuries caused Semin to miss 16 games this season and has limited him to only four goals after a career-high 38 last season.
Semin has just one assist in five career games against the Islanders. Alexander Ovechkin, who leads Washington with 24 goals, has five tallies and three assists in nine games against the Isles.