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Islanders-Blackhawks Preview @NHLdotcom
Islanders-Blackhawks Preview

GAME: New York Islanders (19-23-2) at Chicago Blackhawks (15-25-5).

TIME: Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

Coming off one of their worst losses in franchise history, the New York Islanders try to avoid dropping seven straight road games for the first time in five years when they meet the Chicago Blackhawks.

New York fired coach Steve Stirling on Thursday and replaced him on an interim basis with assistant Brad Shaw. The Islanders responded with just their second win in nearly three weeks later that night by beating Calgary 3-2, but couldn't duplicate the performance on Saturday.

New York fell behind Vancouver by two goals just 6:15 and three shots into the game, and trailed 3-0 after one period and 6-0 through two en route to an 8-1 loss. The seven-goal margin of defeat tied for the worst at home in the team's 33 seasons and was one off the overall mark.

"I didn't think we were ready to play," said Shaw, who joined the team before this season. "We got away from things that gave us success the other night. We gave up chances that they didn't have to work very hard for."

Rick DiPietro was pulled after allowing four goals on 13 shots in 25:35 of ice time. His backup, Wade Dubielewicz, yielded four goals on 18 shots.

"We're on a downward slide, and things have to change quickly," DiPietro said. "It's frustrating. Every time we take a step in the right direction, we immediately take a step backward."

New York's Jason Blake and Miroslav Satan, tied for the team lead with 17 goals, have each scored just once in the last six games. Alexei Yashin has only one goal in his last nine games, but has scored eight times in his last five games against the Blackhawks, including a four-goal game on March 25, 2003.

The Blackhawks have also struggled to put the puck in the net.

Chicago has been held to less than three goals in eight of its last 10 games, and is coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.

The Blackhawks are 2-1-1 since ending a 10-game losing streak last Tuesday in Washington, but have lost nine of their last 10 home games. New York, meanwhile, hasn't dropped seven in a row on the road since Dec. 10, 2000-Jan. 19, 2001.

Adam Munro made 24 saves Sunday in his second straight start for Chicago. He's 2-0-1 with a 1.93 goals-against average since being recalled from Norfolk of the AHL after starting goalie Nikolai Khabibulin went down with a groin injury on Dec. 28.

Craig Anderson is 0-6-0 with a 3.88 GAA since Khabibulin's injury.

STANDINGS: Islanders - 40 points, 4th place, 23 PB, Atlantic Division. Blackhawks - 35 points, 3rd place, 28 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Islanders - Satan and Blake, 17 goals; Yashin, 24 assists and 39 points; Arron Asham, 82 PIM. Blackhawks - Mark Bell, 16 goals; Tyler Arnason, 22 assists and 33 points; Matthew Barnaby, 109 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Islanders - Power play: 17.5 percent (46 for 263), 15th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.2 percent (235 for 293), 23rd. Blackhawks - Power play: 13.2 percent (33 for 249), 29th. Penalty killing: 85.1 percent (279 for 328), 4th.

GOALTENDERS: Islanders - DiPietro (14-13-2, 3.48 GAA); Dubielewicz (1-3-0, 3.35). Blackhawks - Munro (2-0-1, 1.93); Anderson (2-8-1, 3.90).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Islanders, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 6, 2003; Islanders, 5-2. At Uniondale, N.Y., Yashin scored two goals and DiPietro made 21 saves.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Islanders - 9-12-1 on the road; Blackhawks - 8-11-2 at home.

Associated Press
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