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GAME: Edmonton Oilers (16-11-2) at New York Islanders (14-12-2).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

It may be an emotional return to Long Island for Michael Peca.

When the Edmonton Oilers visit the New York Islanders, it will be the first trip back to Nassau Coliseum for Peca, who spent three seasons as Islanders captain before being traded to Edmonton for Mike York on Aug. 3.

"It's never easy to trade anybody, tougher still when the person is your captain," Islanders general manager Mike Milbury said at the time. "That's compounded by the fact that Mike Peca, in large part, was responsible for restoring credibility to the New York Islanders franchise."

Peca was traded from Buffalo to New York in 2001 and led the Islanders to three straight playoff appearances. But New York failed to get out of the first round each time, prompting the deal for York.

Peca, a two-time winner of the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward, has only seven points in 25 games this season, but has helped Edmonton win five of its last seven games.

The Oilers won the opener of a three-game road trip on Thursday night, 3-2 in Philadelphia behind two short-handed goals from Ethan Moreau.

"The story was Ethan," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "He comes to work every day. He's a professional in every sense of the word. He won the game for us with a couple great individual efforts on the penalty-kill."

Maybe Peca can help the Oilers finally win a game against the Islanders. Edmonton hasn't beaten New York since Dec. 14, 1999, losing the last five meetings.

York spent two-plus seasons in Edmonton, totaling 40 goals and 57 assists in 144 games. He has seven goals and 12 assists in 28 games as an Islander, and has six points in his last two outings.

York and Trent Hunter scored for New York on Thursday night, but overall the Isles looked sloppy in a 3-2 shootout loss to Columbus, the league's second-worst team.

"We were lucky to get a point, but we'll take it," Islanders coach Steve Stirling said. "It certainly soothes a little bit after a game we could have won if we were prepared to play.

"York and Hunter might have been the only line cooking. I thought they were really good. After that I'd be hard pressed."

Two nights after having a four-game road winning streak snapped, the Islanders now look to avoid a fourth consecutive home loss.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 9): Oilers - 34 points, 4th place, 4 PB, Northwest Division. Islanders - 30 points, 3rd place, 12 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Oilers - Ryan Smyth, 13 goals; Shawn Horcoff, 23 assists and 27 points; Moreau, 47 PIM. Islanders - Jason Blake and Miroslav Satan, 13 goals; Alexei Zhitnik, 19 assists; Alexei Yashin, 29 points; Zhitnik and Janne Niinimaa, 52 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 9): Oilers - Power play: 17.7 percent (30 for 169), 16th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.0 percent (142 for 173), 19th. Islanders - Power play: 18.6 percent (32 for 172), 10th (tied). Penalty killing: 82.2 percent (158 for 192), 17th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Oilers - Jussi Markkanen (10-9-2, 0 SO, 3.09 GAA); Mike Morrison (5-1-0, 1.79). Islanders - Rick DiPietro (10-9-2, 3.17); Garth Snow (4-3-0, 3.37).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Islanders, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 8, 2004; Islanders, 3-2. At Uniondale, N.Y., Justin Papineau, currently in the minors, had two power-play goals in the third period to lift the Islanders. Peca had two assists for New York.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Oilers - 10-7-0 on the road; Islanders - 5-5-1 at home.

Associated Press
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