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Islanders look to end slide against Predators

by Eric Goodman

PREDATORS (8-7-2) at ISLANDERS (6-9-3)


Last 10: Nashville 5-4-1; New York 3-6-1

Season series: This is the second and final game of the season between these cross-conference clubs. The Nashville Predators defeated the New York Islanders 3-2 at Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 12.

Big story: The Islanders are mired in a four-game losing streak and will face a Predators team that has dominated them over the past decade. Nashville is 8-0-2 in its past 10 games against the Islanders with their last regulation loss April 11, 2002. Through Monday, it was unclear if forwards Thomas Vanek and Cal Clutterbuck would return from upper-body injuries for New York.

Team Scope:

Predators: Nashville is set to play the sixth of its current seven-game road trip Tuesday on Long Island and will aim to snap a recent cold streak during which it lost by an aggregate score of 10-0 in two straight losses to the Winnipeg Jets and New Jersey Devils. The team is feeling the effects of the absence of starting goalie Pekka Rinne, who has missed the past seven games recovering from a bacterial infection in his hip. The Predators sent out a release Sunday stating that Rinne will remain on crutches while continuing to take antibiotics and that the recovery time will be at least a couple of weeks before a follow-up MRI later this month.

The Predators defense is aware that it will need to improve its play to help support fill-in goalies Carter Hutton and Magnus Hellberg.

"We're not playing well defensively and giving up way too many chances," Predators captain and top defenseman Shea Weber said following a 5-0 loss to the Devils on Sunday. "We're giving up odd-man rushes and not helping out our goalie. We need to play solid defensively in order to get offense."

Islanders: New York started out November with two straight victories, but has since hit a rough patch with an average of four goals against and 1.5 goals for during its four-game losing streak. Besides the need for a scoring spark, the Islanders will try to improve upon a League-worst penalty-killing unit that surrendered two straight power-play goals in a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Sunday.

Coach Jack Capuano summed up the main culprit for his team's recent struggles after the game, as the Islanders dropped to 72.9 percent on the penalty kill.

"We’re right there again and bang-bang, two power-play goals," Capuano said.

Who's hot: Islanders captain John Tavares has three goals and four assists in his past six games.

Injury report: Predators forward Mike Fisher (lower body) has missed the last three games and is questionable. ... In addition to Vanek and Clutterbuck, the Islanders are missing defensemen Brian Strait (upper body) and Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion).

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