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Islanders begin road trip against Maple Leafs

by Brian Compton /

ISLANDERS (22-16-5) at MAPLE LEAFS (24-14-5)


Last 10: New York 7-1-2; Toronto 7-2-1

Season series: The New York Islanders are 1-0-1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. The Isles earned a 7-4 victory at Air Canada Centre on Jan. 24 and the Leafs responded with a 5-4 overtime win at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 28.

Big story: The Maple Leafs haven’t qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2004. The Islanders made their last appearance in the postseason in 2007. However, both teams seem primed to return to the big dance this year. Toronto enters Thursday’s action in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and New York is in seventh.

Team Scope:

Islanders: There was no letdown in New York’s regular-season home finale Tuesday, as the Isles cruised to a 5-2 victory against the Florida Panthers at the Coliseum. Michael Grabner scored a pair of goals and Mark Streit chipped in with a power-play goal and an assist.

The win allowed the Islanders to move three points ahead of their arch rivals, the New York Rangers, who suffered a 3-2 loss Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Islanders will play the final five games of their schedule on the road. They are 12-5-2 away from the Coliseum this season.

"We've been good, but we have to continue to be good," said goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who made 26 saves Tuesday for his 21st win of the season. "Nothing is given. We have to fight for it. The reason we've been good is because of our efforts, because of our system, because we've been doing all the little things right. That's why we've been winning."

Maple Leafs: Toronto will be looking to respond after suffering a 5-1 loss to the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on Tuesday. Alex Ovechkin tallied his League-leading 28th goal of the season and added an assist to help the Caps build a 4-0 lead as the Maple Leafs never recovered. They entered Tuesday’s action having won four of their past five games.

"We weren't very good, we didn't do a lot of things well," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. "We circled all night, we didn't play stop-and-go hockey, and it looked like we had nothing in the tank, nothing to give. It just seemed like we got worn down and we weren't playing anywhere near to the level on which was required in tonight's hockey game."

Who's hot
: Grabner now has four goals in the past five games for New York. Streit has a goal and four assists over the same span. … Leafs center Leo Komarov has a goal and an assist in the past three games.

Injury report: Islanders center Casey Cizikas suffered an upper-body injury blocking a shot Tuesday, but he was on the club’s charter flight to Toronto. Isles coach Jack Capuano will likely provide an update on Cizikas’ condition after the morning skate.

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