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Islanders continue trip with a visit to Anaheim

by Frank Mentesana

ISLANDERS (14-17-6) at DUCKS (10-22-6)


Last 10: New York 5-5-0; Anaheim 2-7-1

Season series: Friday's game is the lone meeting between these clubs this season. They squared off twice last season, with the home team winning each time. Curtis McElhinney made 27 saves in Anaheim's 1-0 victory on Nov. 10, 2010, while the Isles used three goals in a first-period span of 99 seconds to post a 3-2 win on Dec. 16, 2010.

Big Story: The Islanders are aiming for a season-high four-game winning streak as they play the middle game of a three-game road trip. The only other time they won three in a row was in the first week of the season. Conversely, the Ducks are trying to avoid a four-game skid, as they have lost the first three contests of a six-game homestand and have dropped seven of their last eight overall.

Team Scope:

Islanders: The Islanders' first matchup of 2012 at Carolina featured a dubious distinction: the loser would fall into last place in the Eastern Conference. The Isles were 90 seconds away from 15th place in the East until John Tavares fed Kyle Okposo for a game-tying goal, which knotted the score at 3-3. After a scoreless overtime, PA Parenteau and Frans Nielsen delivered shootout goals and Evgeni Nabokov stopped two of three Hurricane attempts to lift New York to a 4-3 win.

"No one wants to be in last place," Parenteau said after the game. "We're not looking behind right now. We've got to play a little better than that if we're going to catch these teams. But I think we have the team to do it, to get on a good ride right now."

The Isles' power play has been nearly perfect over their last two games. They were 2-for-2 with the man advantage against Carolina after going 2-for-3 in their 4-1 win over Edmonton on New Year's Eve.

Ducks: Three of the Ducks' 10 victories this season have come against San Jose, but they were unable to continue their recent success over the Sharks on Wednesday. Corey Perry opened the scoring with his 15th goal of the season early in the first period, but the Sharks scored two goals in 27 seconds in the second to take the lead for good en route to a 3-1 win.

"There's just no resiliency," Bobby Ryan said. "When they get the first one, obviously you get down, but that shift that follows up has to be the best shift of the game. It has to be the hardest working to not let the momentum swing in their direction. We went out and got outplayed in the shift after … It just continues to keep happening."

Captain Ryan Getzlaf failed to record a point for a career-worst sixth straight game and he hasn't scored a goal in 12 games.

"I think he's pressing," said coach Bruce Boudreau, whose record fell to 3-9-2 since he took over on Nov. 30. "I thought he worked really hard tonight. You could see the strain a little bit on his face. He knows he hasn't been scoring. He knows he's the captain, and he puts a little bit too much pressure on himself. I told him to not worry about that. Just worry about his game and not anybody else's at this stage."

Who's Hot: Tavares, Nielsen and Okposo each have three-game point streaks; Tavares leads the way with seven points (two goals, five assists) in that span. The 21-year-old center retook the Islanders' scoring lead by assisting on all three goals last game to bring his points total to 34. … Ryan had scored a goal in three straight until he was held off the scoresheet against San Jose.

Injury Report: Goalie Al Montoya and forward David Ullstrom are both out with concussions for New York, while Jay Pandolfo (foot) and Rick DiPietro (groin) also remain sidelined. Defenseman Mike Mottau has sat out the last two games and is day-to-day with concussion-like symptoms. … Devante Smith-Pelly (fractured left foot) and Matt Smaby (right thumb surgery) remain on IR for the Ducks, who did have a player return from injury last game. Former Islander Jason Blake played for the first time since he suffered a serious laceration on his forearm on Oct. 14.

Stat Pack: With their win over Carolina, the Islanders won for the first time this season when trailing after two periods (1-15-2). … The Ducks are 0-for-17 on the power play in their last five games.

Puck Drop: With the Ducks just one point ahead of League-worst Columbus entering play on Thursday, speculation has arisen as to whether general manager Bob Murray will be looking to make some moves.

Murray told Helene Elliott of the L.A. Times before Wednesday's loss to the Sharks: "I still believe we have some core players. Now, whether we have to change a few core players, so be it. They're deciding who's staying and who's not staying at this point."

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