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Jets continue trip with a visit to Long Island

by Matthew Mankiewich

JETS (4-6-1) at ISLANDERS (3-4-2)


Last 10: Winnipeg 4-5-1

Season series: The then-Atlanta Thrashers took three of four last season in response to the Islanders doing likewise in 2009-10. In all, the Jets/Thrashers have taken four of the last five meetings. While the Philips Arena is no longer on the NHL travel itinerary, the Isles did significantly better there than at home, logging a 12-5-2-3 record since 1999-2000 as opposed 11-11-0-0 in Nassau Coliseum, where they dropped both matchups last season as well.

Big story: It's the Jets' first trip through the New York area since moving to Winnipeg, and they'll cover all three stops through the weekend, shooting out to New Jersey on Saturday and back to Manhattan to face the Rangers on Sunday. They'll stay within New York's borders with a stop in Buffalo on Tuesday to conclude their seven-game Eastern swing. So far, they've alternated wins and losses to go 2-1-0. The Islanders are trying to avoid a repeat of last year, where a 4-1-2 start quickly devolved into a season-wrecking 14-game losing streak, So far, it's at five despite picking up points in their last two games. 

Team Scope

Jets: They may have inconsistent scoring and uneven defense, but the Jets have shown a persistence that saw them blow two four-goal leads in Philadelphia only to come back and pull out a 9-8 win last Thursday, then fall 1-0 to the Lightning on Saturday. They opened up a 2-0 lead on the Panthers on Monday, but frittered it away again. The Panthers scored three times unanswered before Evander Kane picked up his second goal of the night on a redirect and Kyle Wellwood won it in the shootout, 4-3.

"The part we'd like to change is that we can't seem to close out the games," coach Claude Noel told the Winnipeg Free Press. "We're up 2-1 and we need a penalty kill and we can't seem to close it up. We have the same concerns in that we gave them seven power plays. That's discipline. Until we change those things we're going to have trouble winning games."

Islanders : The Isles have dropped five in a row, but have been able to take away some good things from the last two games, a shootout loss to the Penguins and an overtime loss to San Jose on Saturday in which the Sharks benefited from an erroneous delay-of-game call to snag the extra point. The Isles hope to take advantage of a four-day layoff in the schedule to get back on track.

"Our game has come a long way," center John Tavares said after scoring his seventh goal in the San Jose game. "If we continue to play like that ... we're going to win a lot more hockey games than we lose.

"We need a win and we need to get back on track, but we've got to stay positive. It's early in the year, and if we keep playing that way I like our chances."

Who's hot : Wellwood has been one of the Jets' best skaters so far, leading the team in goals with five and providing a spark anywhere he plays. Goalie Ondrej Pavelec gave up seven goals to the Flyers and was pulled after five shots against the Hurricanes, but has stopped 65 of 69 shots in his last two games, while team points leader Nik Antropov has seven in his last five games. ... Tavares leads the team in goals (7) and points (11).

Injury report: Jets top defenseman Tobias Enstrom took a hit from Jack Skille in Monday's win against the Panthers and returned to Winnipeg with an upper-body injury. Goalie Chris Mason (groin) is still day-to-day as is defenseman Ron Hainsey (upper body). Forward Eric Fehr (shoulder) hopes to make his season debut by mid-November. ... Isles goalie Evgeni Nabokov (lower body) missed the San Jose game and is still day-to-day but practiced Wednesday and will continue to be part of their goaltending trio. Nino Niederreiter (groin) played Wednesday for AHL affiliate Bridgeport as part of a conditioning assignment.

Stat pack: Wellwood's five goals have come in 11 games, as opposed to 35 last season in San Jose. ... With 11 points, Tavares has figured in more than half of the Isles' 18 goals scored so far. ... With the win on Monday, Pavelec improved his career record to 4-10 in shootouts.

Puck drop: "Right now I feel comfortable with all three guys, they give us a chance to win. They've done that all year. The games obviously that we have lost have not had anything to do with our goaltending. I dealt with it in Bridgeport with three guys, I've dealt with it here. We're going to put guys in a situation to succeed. We're only a few games into this thing. When the time comes, depending on our meetings and what we feel, like I said, I think things will work itself out." - Islanders coach Jack Capuano in Newsday on keeping their three-goalie tandem of DiPietro, Nabokov and Al Montoya together.

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