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Desperate Wild pay rare visit to Long Island

by John Kreiser
WILD (33-24-6) at ISLANDERS (23-32-9)


Last 10 -- Minnesota 5-4-1; New York 5-3-2

Season series -- The teams are meeting for the only time this season. They haven't seen each other since Minnesota beat the Islanders 3-2 on Nov. 29, 2009. The Wild haven't visited Long Island since winning 4-2 on March 25, 2009.

Big story -- After a disappointing one-game stop at home in which they were beaten 4-2 by Chicago on Monday, the Wild are right back on the road and playing the first of two games in the New York area. The loss and the day off dropped the Wild out of the top eight in the West, and they can't afford a loss to the Islanders, who are 28th in the overall standings and coming off a disheartening 2-1 overtime loss at Washington on Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Wild -- The Wild rarely visit, but one Minnesota player is well-acquainted with Long Island. Forward Eric Nystrom grew up there as the son of Isles legend Bob Nystrom. Eric played youth hockey on Long Island before going to the University of Michigan.

"It took me three years to finally got back there for the first time last season (with Calgary), and I'm excited to be going back so soon," he told the team's website. "There are a lot of great memories in that building. I grew up skating on that ice with my dad and saw a lot of games in that building. It's fun to be coming back."

Islanders -- The Isles were less than a minute from what would have been a stunning 1-0 victory at Washington, but wound up losers in OT after two youngsters didn't make plays they needed to make. Brooks Laich got the tying goal with 47.1 seconds left in regulation after rookie forward Michael Grabner failed to clear the puck, and Alex Ovechkin went coast-to-coast for the winner after rookie defenseman Travis Hamonic was caught up ice.

It was a tough lesson for a young team.

"I think we should be proud of the effort we put forth tonight," said forward PA Parenteau, who set up Matt Moulson for the Isles' only goal. "But we have to learn. Those kind of games have to be wins for us. We played a pretty strong game. They had a lot of chances, but we were pretty strong, we made some plays and we had a pretty good game. We should have come up with a win, but a couple bad breaks and a really nice play by Ovi (Ovechkin) there at the end."

Who's hot -- Martin Havlat scored Monday and has points in five of his last six games for Minnesota. … Matt Moulson has 7 goals in the Isles' last five games. Hamonic has 3 goals and 11 points in his last 15.

Injury report -- Wild captain Mikko Koivu is out for another couple of weeks due to a broken finger. Guillaume Latendresse (groin), James Sheppard (knee) and Josh Harding (ACL/MCL) are also out. Cam Barker (upper body) and Cody Almond (lower body) are day-to-day.. … The Islanders, decimated by injuries all season, are without Mark Streit (shoulder), Mark Eaton (hip), Mike Mottau (hip), Radek Martinek (lower body), Milan Jurcina (groin), Doug Weight (back), Trent Hunter (knee) and goalies Rick DiPietro (facial fractures, knee swelling) and Kevin Poulin (knee).

Stat pack -- Minnesota has won the last five meetings between the teams and eight of 11 overall. … The Islanders passed 450 man-games lost due to injury on Tuesday; they're all but certain to surpass 500 by season's end.

Puck drop -- The most disappointed Islander on Tuesday was goaltender Nathan Lawson, who was less than a minute away from his first NHL shutout and didn't even get the win despite a 40-save performance.

"It's extremely disappointing to lose it in that last 47 seconds," Lawson said. "We battled so hard for 59 minutes. To come away with just one point is unacceptable."

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