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Preview: Islanders at Canucks

New York looks to continue success on road trip; defenseman Alex Biega expected to play forward for Vancouver

by Kevin Woodley / Correspondent

ISLANDERS (31-23-11) at CANUCKS (28-30-8)

10 p.m. ET; SNP, MSG, NHL.TV 


Islanders team scope

The New York Islanders enter play Thursday in the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs. "It's fun to have meaningful games," coach Doug Weight said. "They have embraced it as players." New York is 14-6-3 since Weight became coach on Jan. 17, and 4-2-1 on a season-high nine-game road trip that concludes against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. "It's been a long trip," Andrew Ladd said. "Every game the standings can shift by a lot so it's part of dealing with being in this situation and not getting too far in front of yourself and just focusing on game in front of you." Goalie Thomas Greiss will make his eighth straight start for New York, which is using defense pairs from a 4-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. Travis Hamonic played with Calvin de Haan for the first time this season and often against Connor McDavid's line. "It's pretty seamless for a lot of guys," Weight said. "(They) played a lot together in the past." Forward Shane Prince was sent to New York after injuring his ankle in Edmonton and will be replaced in the lineup by Stephen Gionta, who has four assists in 12 games.


Canucks team scope

Right wing Nikolay Goldobin won't play because of the flu, leaving the Vancouver Canucks with 11 healthy forwards against the Islanders. Vancouver will dress seven defensemen, with Alex Biega expected to play forward on the fourth line. Defenseman Nikita Tryamkin also is expected to return after missing six games with the mumps. Vancouver is seven points behind St. Louis for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. The Canucks are 2-0-1 in their past three games after losing the previous four but couldn't get an extra point in a 2-1 overtime loss against the Montreal Canadiens to start a five-game homestand on Tuesday. "We know we need points to even have a slight chance of making it," captain Henrik Sedin said. Vancouver traded veteran forwards Jannik Hansen and Alexandre Burrows before the March 1 NHL Trade Deadline for a prospect, a draft pick and Goldobin, who scored in his Canucks debut on Saturday. "It would be easy for them to get deflated and they've never done that," coach Willie Desjardins said. "The positive is our attitude. The room still competes hard, they come out and believe they can find a way to win, even when they are down they think they can come back."


Islanders projected lineup

Anders Lee -- John Tavares -- Josh Bailey

Andrew Ladd -- Ryan Strome -- Jason Chimera

Nikolay Kulemin -- Brock Nelson -- Joshua Ho-Sang

Stephen Gionta -- Anthony Beauvillier -- Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy -- Adam Pelech

Calvin de Haan -- Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey -- Dennis Seidenberg

Thomas Greiss

Jean-Francois Berube

Scratched: Scott Mayfield

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


Canucks projected lineup

Daniel Sedin -- Henrik Sedin -- Markus Granlund

Sven Baertschi -- Bo Horvat -- Joseph Cramarossa

Brendan Gaunce -- Brandon Sutter -- Jayson Megna

Reid Boucher -- Michael Chaput -- Alex Biega

Alexander Edler -- Troy Stecher

Luca Sbisa -- Christopher Tanev

Ben Hutton -- Nikita Tryamkin

Ryan Miller

Richard Bachman

Scratched: Philip Larsen

Injured: Loui Eriksson (knee), Jacob Markstrom (lower body), Jack Skille (groin), Anton Rodin (knee), Erik Gudbranson (wrist surgery), Derek Dorsett (neck surgery)


Status report

Kulemin will move up from the fourth line into Prince's spot on the third line with Nelson and Ho-Sang, who scored his first NHL goal in Edmonton. Gionta replaces Prince on the fourth line. … Cramarossa, who was claimed off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks on March 1, is expected to take Goldobin's spot on the second line after playing there against the Canadiens on Tuesday. Eriksson played there before getting injured in Anaheim on Sunday.


Who's hot

Tavares has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in his past 12 games. …  Horvat has 11 points (five goals, six assists) in his past 11 games.

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