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Injury-plagued Isles visit banged-up Wild

by Adam Kimelman /

ISLANDERS (9-14-6) at WILD (20-8-4)

TV: MSG PLUS 2, FS-North (HD)

LAST 10: Islanders 4-4-2; Wild 7-2-1

Season series: This is the second and final meeting of the season between the teams. On Oct. 10, Andrew MacDonald and Frans Nielsen scored 2:40 apart in the first period and the Islanders killed off all seven Wild power plays in a 2-1 victory on Long Island.

Big Story: Someone's streak has to end -- the Wild are winless in two straight, while the Islanders have lost three straight.

Team Scope:

Islanders: During the team's recent six-game streak with at least a point (4-0-2), the Isles went 6-for-24 on the power play and killed 17 of 19 opposition power plays. But in their current three-game losing streak, they're just 1-for-12 with the man advantage, and have allowed three goals on 13 opposition advantages.

The Isles could get help in fixing those numbers as injured defensemen Andrew MacDonald (seven games, right leg) and Mark Eaton (11 games, knee) both could return to the lineup Saturday.

"Those are both guys that block a lot of shots and log a lot of minutes on our penalty kill," coach Jack Capuano told the team's website. "There's no question it would help in that area for sure. Special teams have been a big issue for our team over the last 10 days and (MacDonald) can play the power play, as well. Just their leadership and their experience back on the blue line will help."

Wild: The latest wounded Wild forward is team captain and leading scorer Mikko Koivu, who is day to day with a leg injury and won't play Saturday.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher is hopeful of having Koivu back before Christmas, which means he's questionable for the team's three-game road trip that starts Monday in Vancouver and carries right into the holiday.

"You see him go off the ice and you hold your breath a little bit there," coach Mike Yeo told the paper. "We've got a little bit of good news that it's not a real serious injury and he shouldn't be out for an extended period of time."

The Wild already are missing key forwards Devin Setoguchi and Guillaume Latendresse, and Yeo said Pierre-Marc Bouchard questionable due to a facial injury.

Who's Hot: After totaling just two goals and six points in his first 19 games, Islanders forward Kyle Okposo is 3-3-6 in his last seven games. … Wild forward Kyle Brodziak has three goals in his last three games, and with 11 goals in 32 games, he's on pace for a career-best 27 goals.

Injury Report: Eaton and MacDonald, as well as forward Nino Niederreiter (concussion) and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov (groin) could come off the Islanders' injury list, but more than a few names remain. Forward Brian Rolston and defenseman Steve Staios are out with concussions, forward Jay Pandolfo is out with a broken foot and goalie Rick DiPietro is on IR with a groin injury. … Wild forwards Koivu (leg), Setoguchi (lower body) and Latendresse (concussion) are out and Bouchard (facial injuries) and Casey Wellman (wrist) are questionable. Defenseman Justin Falk (upper body) also is questionable. Goalie Josh Harding (upper body) is expected to play; the team sent goalie Matt Hackett back to AHL Houston.

Stat Pack: The Wild's 10 wins at home are the second-most in the Western Conference, while the Islanders' three road wins are the fewest in the Eastern Conference. However, the Isles have picked up points in six of eight games against Western Conference teams (2-2-4), while the Wild is just 2-3-1 against Eastern Conference teams.

Puck Drop: While he was sitting out, Eaton had a chance to see how his team did well early in his absence, but has slid a bit in the last three games.

"We've played some pretty good hockey," Eaton told the team's website. "We went on a pretty good stretch there. Basically the last three games were not the result that we want, but I think just watching the last three weeks, our desperation and the sense of urgency is there more than it was."

Eaton said consistency for an entire game is the key to being successful.

"We realize that we have to start games from the first second and play all the way through for 60-65 minutes depending on the outcome," he said. "That's the biggest thing I've seen, is our sense of urgency and desperation in our game."
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