Wins have been rare for the New York Islanders over the past few weeks, but attaining them away from home has been nearly impossible.
Looking to halt a 10-game road losing streak, the Islanders open a four-game swing against Western Conference opponents with Friday's matchup against the Phoenix Coyotes.
New York (12-22-4) opened December with 10 consecutive losses, but heads into the new year having split its last four games.
Both victories came at home, most recently 4-2 over Florida on Wednesday as Mike Comrie's two goals powered a second-period three-goal outburst.
"You lose 10 in a row, there can be a million excuses but there is a reason you're losing," center Doug Weight said. "We weren't playing 60 minutes, and I think now we have a little newfound energy."
That energy could be useful as the Islanders have been outscored 45-20 during an 0-9-1 road slide - their longest since losing a franchise-record 15 straight from Jan. 20-March 31, 1973, during the team's inaugural season.
New York, which is winless on the road since a shootout win at Montreal on Nov. 24, is 1-5-0 with two ties in its last eight visits to Phoenix (18-15-5). The lone victory came on Feb. 13, 2004, and the Islanders lost 6-3 on Oct. 5, 2006, in their most recent game at Jobing.com Arena.
While his team tries to end its road woes, Weight will be seeking his 1,000th NHL point. The 17-year veteran - tied with Mark Streit for a team-leading 30 points - has 16 goals and 61 points in 57 career games against the Coyotes, and would become only the eighth American-born player to reach the plateau.
On Wednesday, Weight inched closer to the milestone by assisting on one of Comrie's tallies for his first point in three games.
"You're thinking about hunting it down and getting it over with and doing it at home. That would be nice," Weight said.
Phoenix has been successful at home, winning six of its last eight (6-1-1) to improve to 12-5-2 overall. The Coyotes have split the first two games of their three-game homestand after a 3-1 win over Colorado on Wednesday.
Peter Mueller scored twice in a 2:05 span of the second period, notching his third goal in three contests following a 21-game drought. The winger had 22 goals and 54 points as a rookie last season.
"He's probably the purest goal scorer we have on this team, for him to get hot he can carry us a long ways with how well he shoots the puck and how well he generates offense," said captain Shane Doan, who leads the Coyotes with 17 goals and 37 points and assisted on both of Mueller's tallies.
Phoenix looks to capitalize on a New York defense that has conceded 3.53 goals per game. Joey MacDonald, who made 25 saves Wednesday, has started the last three games with top netminder Rick DiPietro day-to-day with a strained groin. MacDonald has never faced Phoenix.
The Coyotes' Mikael Tellqvist, meanwhile, made 28 saves while starting in place of the ailing Ilya Bryzgalov (sore back) on Wednesday. Tellqvist, who made a relief appearance against the Islanders in 2003, is 4-2-0 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in seven home games.
Phoenix is 6-2-3 in its last 11 games, and 7-2-0 with three ties against the Islanders since Jan. 3, 1998. The Coyotes fell 3-2 at New York on Dec. 13, 2007 in the teams' latest matchup.