Islanders-Maple Leafs Preview
GAME: New York Islanders (16-13-2) at Toronto Maple Leafs (16-13-3).
TIME: Monday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The New York Islanders are in a stretch where they play five of six games at home. That may not be good news for a team that seems to be playing much better on the road.
The Islanders look to continue their recent road success when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first time this season.
With a 5-4 victory Saturday over the Colorado Avalanche, the Islanders moved one game over .500 at home (7-6-1). They are 9-7-1 away from Nassau Coliseum, trailing only the New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres in road wins in the Eastern Conference.
New York has gained at least a point in five straight road games (4-0-1) and is 6-1-1 in its last eight on the road.
Saturday's win did not come easy for the Islanders, who held leads of 4-1 and 5-2 before holding off a furious Avalanche rally in the final minutes.
"It was a good win for us," defenseman Chris Campoli said. "We needed a win like this, and it's something to build off of. We're right behind Toronto, and we play them Monday night, so this is a good way to head up there."
Campoli and four other players scored for New York, which moved within one point of the struggling Maple Leafs for the eighth and final playoff berth in the East.
With several forwards nursing injuries, the Islanders recalled Jeff Hamilton, Jeremy Colliton and Rob Collins from Bridgeport of the AHL before Saturday's game. Hamilton opened the scoring with his first NHL goal.
Center Jason Blake, New York's second-leading scorer, sat out Saturday with a moderate concussion. He is not expected to play Monday, but could return Wednesday against the New Jersey Devils.
Toronto had one of its worst performances of the season as it allowed six power-play goals in an 8-2 loss Saturday at Ottawa .
It was the fourth loss in five games overall for the Leafs, who have dropped four of six at home.
Toronto coach Pat Quinn refused to blame slumping goaltender Ed Belfour for the loss.
"What's the goaltender supposed to do?" Quinn said. "Play defense, get the puck and do all the other stuff too? I'm not sure I would like to play goal for this team. You miss a lot of plays like we did and we get the result we got."
Belfour has lost five straight starts since moving into a tie with Terry Sawchuk for second on the NHL's career wins list.
STANDINGS: Islanders - 34 points, 3rd place, 10 PB, Atlantic Division. Maple Leafs - 35 points, 4th place, 13 PB, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Islanders - Miroslav Satan, 15 goals; Alexei Zhitnik, 20 assists; Alexei Yashin, 31 points; Arron Asham, 68 PIM. Maple Leafs - Darcy Tucker, 13 goals; Bryan McCabe, 29 assists and 40 points; Wade Belak, 45 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Islanders - Power play: 18.2 percent (35 for 192), 12th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.7 percent (175 for 214), 20th. Maple Leafs - Power play: 21.6 percent (45 for 208), 4th. Penalty killing: 80.7 percent (164 for 203), 23rd (tied).
GOALTENDERS: Islanders - Rick DiPietro (12-10-2, 0 SO, 3.18 GAA); Garth Snow (4-3-0, 3.37). Maple Leafs - Belfour (12-11-2, 3.36); Mikael Tellqvist (4-2-1, 1, 2.35).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 2-2.
LAST MEETING: March 4, 2004; Maple Leafs, 6-2. At Toronto, Brian Leetch, now with the Boston Bruins, had three assists in his Maple Leafs' debut, two coming on power-play goals by McCabe.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Islanders - 9-7-1 on the road; Maple Leafs - 10-7-1 at home.