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Kings go for season sweep of slumping Islanders

by Matthew Mankiewich

ISLANDERS (8-16-5) at KINGS (18-7-4)


Last 10: New York 1-7-2, Los Angeles 6-1-3

Season series: The teams close their two-game series at Staples Center. On Nov. 14, the New York Islanders opened a 2-0 lead in two periods but the Los Angeles Kings scored three unanswered goals in the third for a 3-2 win at Nassau Coliseum.

Big story: The Islanders need a win. On Nov. 2, they were sharp while beating the Boston Bruins 3-1 and looked like the team that made the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring. But they are 2-11-2 since then, winless in their past eight (0-6-2) and have dropped eight in a row in regulation on the road. The Kings have had three days off after winning each end of a tough back-to-back; they beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 at home Monday and followed with a 3-2 shootout win against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Islanders: Coach Jack Capuano has repeated the mantra over and over again: The Islanders' recent misfortunes are not for lack of effort. Just before they embarked on this five-game road trip, injured goalie Evgeni Nabokov joined the chorus.

"To me, when the work ethic is not there, then it's time to speak up," he told Newsday at practice before a 5-1 loss to the Blues on Thursday. "It's not about work ethic here, to me. It's all a lack of confidence right now. The way we're playing, if we win one tough game, no matter how we do it, I feel like we'll get on a roll."

One thing they must do to get on that roll is improve the penalty kill. Three power-play goals in the first 30 minutes at St. Louis put the game out of reach. The Islanders have allowed five power-play goals in their past two games and are last in the NHL with a 70.0 success rate on the penalty kill.

"We get into penalty trouble and bang-bang," Capuano said of the Blues' two quick goals in the second period. "We're having a tough time scoring goals… so we have to kill penalties."

Kings: Rookie goalie Martin Jones had to do a little of everything in his NHL debut. Facing the Ducks on their home ice was tough enough, but keeping them at bay through nine rounds of a shootout after the teams finished 2-2 through overtime would have been a daunting task for anyone. But Jones was undaunted going into the shootout.

"I've been in that situation before," Jones said to the Los Angeles Times, remembering a longer shootout he won in juniors. "The shooters are a little bit higher level. I just wanted to stick with what I've been doing and what I've been working on, and I was able to make a couple saves there."

He was perfect through nine rounds, and Dwight King beat Anaheim's Jonas Hiller to win it.

Who's hot: Islanders captain John Tavares has been held off the scoresheet six times in 29 games. Forward Kyle Okposo has a three-game point streak, including the goals in a 3-2 overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald scored against the Blues and has a three-game point streak. … Kings goalie Ben Scrivens had played 10 games in a row in place of injured Jonathan Quick. He went 6-1-3.

Injury report: Nabokov (groin) remains on injured reserve, as do defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) and Brian Strait (upper body). … Quick (groin) is not expected back till late December. Forward Trevor Lewis (lower body) and defenseman Matt Greene (upper body) are out.

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