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Preview: Islanders at Oilers

Doug Weight returns to Edmonton for first time as New York coach

by Derek Van Diest / NHL.com Correspondent

ISLANDERS (30-23-11) at OILERS (35-22-8) 

9 p.m. ET; SNW, MSG+2, NHL.TV

 

Islanders team scope

Doug Weight returns to Edmonton, where he played nine NHL seasons, for the first time as New York Islanders coach. "It's always special to come back, it's always busy in a good way and I've seen a lot of friendly faces, people that I've known for a lot of years and mean a lot to me, as the city does," Weight said. "It's two special franchises to me, and as far as being a head coach, it's fun, it's exhilarating and the guys have responded unbelievably. We have great leaders and it's been a fun ride to this point." The Islanders are 13-6-3 under Weight and hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs and two ahead of the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Islanders are playing the seventh of a nine-game road trip. They gave up four goals in the first period of a 5-2 loss at the Calgary Flames on Sunday. "Hopefully, we have a better first period than we had in Calgary," captain John Tavares said. "Hopefully, we have a little more jump in our game. We're playing a young, skilled team that [is] playing with a lot of confidence and having a really good season thus far and in a position they haven't been in a while. You just want to, like any young team, try to make it hard on them, make them have to defend and make them work to get the puck. Just try to keep the game in front of us."

 

Oilers team scope

The Edmonton Oilers are two points ahead of the Anaheim Ducks and Flames for second place in the Pacific Division, and seven behind the first-place San Jose Sharks. "This [game] is huge, the standings are still tight and Calgary keeps winning too," forward Leon Draisaitl said. "So we have to make sure we're ready go tonight, and it's a big two points for us." Edmonton is in position to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2006. "Obviously, we're not in the playoffs yet and every game counts here," defenseman Eric Gryba said. "These are a big two points here tonight. It's not just getting in the playoffs, but I think playing well going into the playoffs is a big goal of ours. We know it's attainable getting there, but it's playing the right way and going into that first series feeling good and feeling confident." The Oilers defeated the Islanders 4-3 in a shootout on Nov. 5 in Brooklyn. "One of the big challenges we have tonight is to make sure our desperation level matches theirs," coach Todd McLellan said. "We can't fall into a comfort zone thinking that everything is fine. A lot of the teams we are playing with are right on that [playoff] cusp, and we're trying to convince our guys that we're right there as well." Draisaitl is four points from tying Marco Sturm for the most points by a German player in one season. Sturm had 59 points (29 goals, 30 assists) playing for the Boston Bruins and Sharks in 2005-06.

 

Islanders projected lineup 

Anders Lee -- John Tavares -- Josh Bailey

Andrew Ladd -- Brock Nelson -- Joshua Ho-Sang

Shane Prince -- Ryan Strome -- Jason Chimera

Nikolay Kulemin -- Anthony Beauvillier -- Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy -- Adam Pelech

Thomas Hickey -- Travis Hamonic

Calvin de Haan -- Dennis Seidenberg

Thomas Greiss

Jean-Francois Berube

Scratched: Stephen Gionta, Scott Mayfield

Injured: Casey Cizikas (hand), Johnny Boychuk (foot), Alan Quine (upper body)

 

Oilers projected lineup 

Patrick Maroon -- Connor McDavid -- Leon Draisaitl

Milan Lucic -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Jordan Eberle

Drake Caggiula -- David Desharnais -- Zack Kassian

Matt Hendricks -- Mark Letestu -- Jujhar Khaira

Oscar Klefbom -- Adam Larsson

Andrej Sekera -- Matt Benning

Darnell Nurse -- Eric Gryba

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Scratched: Iiro Pakarinen, Anton Slepyshev

Injured: Benoit Pouliot (upper body), Tyler Pitlick (knee), Kris Russell (undisclosed)

 

Status report

The Islanders will use the same forwards they dressed Sunday. Pelech replaces Mayfield on defense, and Boychuk will miss his second straight game with a foot injury. … The Oilers will likely use the same lineup from their 4-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.

Who's hot

Tavares has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his past 11 games. Bailey has six points (one goal, five assists) in his past six games. … McDavid has 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) his past 10 games. Draisaitl has eight points (three goals, five assists) in his past nine games.

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