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Islanders hit Toronto on a hot streak

by Neil Acharya
TORONTO -- The New York Islanders, winners of three straight games, head into Toronto tonight playing their best hockey of the season. They boast the League's hottest player in John Tavares, who has a season-long 12-game point-scoring streak; an up-and-coming play maker in PA Parenteau, who enters tonight's action fifth in the League in assists; and the NHL’s Third Star of the past week, goalie Evgeni Nabokov.

"We're executing more, we're starting to put 60-minute games together more frequently," said Tavares who has eight goals and 13 assists during his streak.

"When we are having tough stretches I feel like we're bouncing back and responding with solid shifts, big goals, big penalty kills and big saves, and we are coming up in those key moments in games and making some plays where overall it's making a difference for the end result."

Toronto will be playing their last of nine home games this month. They started the new year with four straight victories at Air Canada Centre but have tumbled recently, losing four of five and three of their last four at home.

"Their power play is just behind ours in the League and over the last 10 games or so it's about 35 percent," said Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson. "A lot of their offense is coming from the power play. By playing the way we have been, and not taking penalties will help, if we do take a penalty, (we need to) continue to be as aggressive as we have."

Wilson also acknowledged the play of Nabokov and his impact on the Isles. Wilson knows Nabokov well from their time together in San Jose.

"Nabokov is giving them solid goaltending (and) that's a huge plus," said Wilson. "A veteran presence in net who doesn't really get rattled. And when you get that kind of goaltending, your offence perks up and all areas of your game gets a little better."

Toronto enters the game two points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference, while the Islanders can pull within five points of the ninth-place Leafs with a victory.

The Maple Leafs took the teams' only other meeting this season between the two clubs, skating away with a 5-3 victory Dec. 23 on Long Island.
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