Islanders-Red Wings Preview
GAME: New York Islanders (12-12-1) at Detroit Red Wings (18-7-2).
TIME: Sunday, 5 p.m. EST.
The Detroit Red Wings try to regain their early-season form and maintain their recent dominance over the New York Islanders when the teams meet for the only time this season.
The Red Wings are 7-0-1 against the Islanders since a 3-1 defeat on Dec. 27, 1999.
Detroit posted impressive numbers in winning 12 of its first 13 games. They outscored opponents 55-24, converted 28.2 percent of their power plays (24 of 85) and killed off 92.3 percent of their penalties (72 of 78).
Over the last 14 games, though, the Red Wings have stumbled to a 6-6-2 record. They have scored as many goals as they have allowed (47), their power play percentage has dipped to 22.2 percent (16 of 72) and their penalty killing has been shoddy at 77.5 percent (69 of 89).
Still, the Wings lead both the Central Division and Western Conference.
First-year coach Mike Babcock is concerned about his team following a 3-2 home loss Thursday to the Calgary Flames.
The Red Wings scored two power-play goals in the first period, but were outshot 27-12 the final two periods and failed to support rookie goaltender Jimmy Howard.
"We got a lesson at home, we're not used to that," Babcock said. "It's one we're going to have to learn from."
Leading scorer Pavel Datsyuk has seven assists during a five-game points streak. He has failed to score a goal in six games. He has four assists in three games against the Islanders.
New York squandered a two-goal lead in a 4-3 defeat Tuesday to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders thought they tied the game with 0.2 seconds to play, but a video review disallowed a goal by Brent Sopel that would have provided at least one point.
"The puck went in, and the referee admitted that he had blown the whistle before the puck went in and apologized," Islanders captain Alexei Yashin said. "It was a really tough break. It would have been great to have the tie at that point, and take our chances in overtime."
Yashin enters this contest on a three-game points streak, tallying a goal and two assists in that span. He has seven goals and six assists in 15 career games against Detroit.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 3): Islanders - 25 points, 4th place, 12 PB, Atlantic Division. Red Wings - 38 points, 1st place, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Islanders - Miroslav Satan, 13 goals; Alexei Zhitnik, 17 assists; Yashin, 27 points; Alexei Zhitnik and Janne Niinimaa, 50 PIM. Red Wings - Brendan Shanahan, 15 goals; Pavel Datsyuk and Jason Williams, 21 assists; Datsyuk, 30 points; Chris Chelios, 58 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 3): Islanders - Power play: 17.6 percent (27 for 153), tied for 16th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83 percent (142 for 171), 11th. Red Wings - Power play: 25.4 percent (40 for 157), 1st. Penalty killing: 84.4 percent (141 for 167), 9th.
GOALTENDERS: Islanders - Rick DiPietro (8-9-1, 0 SO, 3.31 GAA); Garth Snow (4-3-0, 0, 3.37). Red Wings - Howard (1-1-0, 0, 2.52); Chris Osgood (4-2-2, 0, 3.25).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 28, 2003; Red Wings, 6-0. At Detroit, Steve Thomas had a pair of first-period goals, Datsyuk had three assists and Legace turned aside 30 shots for a shutout.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Islanders - 7-7-0 on the road; Red Wings - 9-4-1 at home.