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Islanders could get Grabner back against Jets

by Patrick Williams

ISLANDERS (24-11-1) at JETS (19-11-7)


WINNIPEG -- The New York Islanders begin a season-long seven-game road trip Wednesday when they visit the Winnipeg Jets.

The game will begin a stretch of eight of nine games on the road for the Islanders, whose 24 wins tie them with the Montreal Canadiens for the most in the Eastern Conference.

Neither team held a morning skate Wednesday, and it is not clear whether Islanders right wing Michael Grabner will be available for the game. Grabner has missed all but five games this season because of a lower-body injury, and he has not played since Dec. 13. Grabner participated in the morning skate Monday before the Islanders’ 4-3 overtime win against the Washington Capitals.

The Jets have long-term injury problems of their own. Defensemen Zach Bogosian, Toby Enstrom and Mark Stuart each are out with lower-body injuries. Defenseman Jacob Trouba is out with an upper body injury. Left wing Evander Kane is out with a lower-body injury sustained in the first game of a home-and-home series with the Minnesota Wild on Dec. 27.

Kane’s injury has disrupted Winnipeg’s third line after it was beginning to establish itself with rookie center Adam Lowry and right wing Matt Halischuk. Left wing Chris Thorburn replaced Kane in a 3-2 loss against Minnesota on Monday and will remain on the line.

It is expected that the Jets will start goaltender Ondrej Pavelec for the first time since Dec. 19. Jets coach Paul Maurice had been rotating Pavelec with rookie Michael Hutchinson for a month; however, Hutchinson has started the past three games and four of the past five.

The Islanders are expected to counter with goaltender Jaroslav Halak. After missing two games with a lower-body injury, Halak returned and made 23 saves Monday.

Here are the projected lineups:


Josh Bailey - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Mikhail Grabovski - Frans Nielsen - Nikolay Kulemin

Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Ryan Strome

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Calvin de Haan - Travis Hamonic

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk

Thomas Hickey - Lubomir Visnovsky

Jaroslav Halak

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Eric Boulton, Matt Donovan, Brian Strait

Injured: Michael Grabner (lower body)


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Michael Frolik

Chris Thorburn - Adam Lowry - Matt Halischuk

TJ Galiardi - Jim Slater - Anthony Peluso

Ben Chiarot - Dustin Byfuglien

Jay Harrison - Grant Clitsome

Adam Pardy - Paul Postma

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Julien Brouillette, Patrice Cormier

Injured: Zach Bogosian (lower body), Toby Enstrom (lower body), Evander Kane (lower body), Mark Stuart (lower body), Jacob Trouba (upper body)

Status report: Galiardi will replace Thorburn on Winnipeg’s fourth line. Galiardi dressed Monday for the first time since Dec. 11 but has played three games since Nov. 13.

Who's hot: Tavares (three goals, two assists) and Okposo (one goal, four assists) each are on four-game points streaks. …Perreault has seven goals and five assists in 12 games in December.

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