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Islanders begin road trip against Capitals

by Brian Compton

ISLANDERS (6-5-3) at CAPITALS (7-7-0)


Last 10: New York 4-4-2; Washington 6-4-0

Season series: This is the first of four meetings between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals. The teams will face each other again later this month, when the Capitals visit Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 30.

Big story: The Islanders begin a four-game road trip after reeling off back-to-back victories against the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Washington has also won two straight; the Capitals bombarded the Philadelphia Flyers in a 7-0 victory Friday before edging the Florida Panthers in a 3-2 shootout win Saturday.

Team Scope:

Islanders: The Islanders responded nicely to last Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers at the Coliseum by rallying for a win at Ottawa on Friday night before putting together a solid 60-minute effort on home ice against the Bruins. It marked the first time the Isles have won back-to-back games this season, a feat they know they’re going to have to achieve more often if they plan on qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs again.

“We’ve had some games at home slip away from us here, so it’s going to be important to get some points on the trip,” right wing Cal Clutterbuck told the team’s website Monday. “(We need to) keep it simple. We played a pretty efficient road game in Ottawa, so we are trying to emulate that as much as possible and give ourselves the best chance at coming back with as many points as possible.”

Capitals: Washington also enters Tuesday with some momentum. After losing two straight, the Capitals have won two in a row and will play the second of a three-game homestand. Michal Neuvirth made 31 saves Saturday to lead Washington past the Panthers in what was the Caps’ first home game in two weeks.

Both victories were recorded without the services of captain Alex Ovechkin, who was out with an upper-body injury but will play Tuesday.

"We won a couple of different ways," defenseman Steve Oleksy said. "[Friday] we proved to ourselves that we can win that way. [Saturday's game] was closer than we wanted it to be, but down the stretch, we found a way, which is important."

Who's hot: Kyle Okposo leads the Islanders with 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 14 games. Frans Nielsen is 8-8-16 and John Tavares is 6-9-15. Thomas Vanek has three points (one goal, two assists) is as many games since being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 27. … Nicklas Backstrom leads Washington with 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 14 games. He has three goals and an assist in the past two.

Injury report: Islanders center Peter Regin had dental work performed Monday and did not practice, but he is expected to play Tuesday. Defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) and Brian Strait (upper body) are on injured reserve. … Ovechkin will be back in the lineup for the Capitals, while defensemen John Erskine (upper body) and Jack Hillen (leg) are out.

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