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Islanders come home looking for win over Jets

by Brian Hunter

JETS (11-11-4) at ISLANDERS (8-13-3)


Last 10: Winnipeg 5-3-2; New York 2-8-0

Season series: This is the first of two meetings between the Winnipeg Jets and New York Islanders. Last season, New York took two of three. That included a 5-4 win at MTS Centre in the most recent matchup on April 20, a game decided by John Tavares' shootout goal.

Big story: Each team knows it needs to start making up ground now or face a far more difficult climb toward a Stanley Cup Playoff berth in the second half. The Jets began a six-game road trip with an encouraging win against the New Jersey Devils on Monday, while the Islanders have had the past three days off and start a four-game homestand.

Team Scope:

Jets: A couple of lengthy scoring droughts came to an end and a much-needed goaltending effort was turned in Monday as Winnipeg claimed a 3-1 victory at Prudential Center to start a trip that doesn't end until Dec. 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Mark Scheifele opened the scoring against the Devils with his first goal since opening night, a span of 25 games. The lead was by courtesy of Evander Kane, who had gone without a goal in 11 straight. Ondrej Pavelec made the lead stand up by stopping 25 shots for his 100th NHL win.

"It was a good start," Pavelec said in Winnipeg Free Press. "It's always important how you start a road trip. But it's only one and we have a lot of hockey in front of us.

"We have to focus on the next one. Take the positives and take the next one."

Islanders: The road wasn't kind to New York over the past week as the Islanders were outscored 14-7 while being swept on a three-game trip. With veteran goalie Evgeni Nabokov sidelined due to a groin injury, fourth-year pro Kevin Poulin has struggled in allowing 18 goals in his past five appearances. The 23-year-old was pulled early in the second period of a 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night. Anders Nilsson, also 23, made his season debut and turned aside 12 of 13 shots in relief.

"We feel like we have a good team in here," center Frans Nielsen said in Newsday. "Special teams is not helping, and we're obviously making some mental mistakes at crucial times. But we have to believe and play our game. We know we can win when we do that."

Who's hot: Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien assisted on a pair of goals Monday, giving him six goals and six assists in his past 10 games. … Fourth-line center Casey Cizikas has three goals and two assists during a five-game point streak for the Islanders.

Injury report: Winnipeg defensemen Zach Bogosian (groin) and Paul Postma (blood clot) and forward Jim Slater (sports hernia) are on injured reserve. … New York defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Thomas Hickey returned to practice Tuesday. MacDonald left practice Monday after taking a puck up high, while Hickey missed practice with a lower-body injury after blocking a shot on Saturday. Nabokov (groin) and defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) and Brian Strait (upper body) are on injured reserve.

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