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Sharks take four-game winning streak to Long Island

by John Kreiser

SHARKS (5-3-0) at ISLANDERS (3-4-1)

TV: CSN-California; MSG PLUS

Season series: It's the only meeting of the season between the teams, who haven't seen each other since the Sharks won 2-1 in a shootout at San Jose last Nov. 11. San Jose has won the last three meetings and is 9-2 with one tie in the last 12.

Big Story: The Sharks come to Long Island off one of their biggest wins of the season, a 4-2 victory at Detroit on Friday night that gave them a 4-0-0 mark on a six-game road trip that ends Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

Until Thursday, it looked like they might face longtime goaltender Evgeni Nabokov for the first time -- but after stopping 30 shots through 65 minutes in Pittsburgh, Nabokov gave way to Rick DiPietro for the shootout, which the Penguins won 1-0 to win the game 3-2. Nabokov's lower-body injury will keep him from facing the only NHL team he had ever played for until this season. DiPietro, who hadn't played all season before taking the ice for the shootout, could get his first start.

Team Scope:

Sharks: The Sharks left the West Coast eight days ago with a 2-3-0 record and playing poorly. Four wins later, they've righted the ship -- especially after the emotional win in Detroit.

"It's always a great game when these two teams come together," forward Patrick Marleau said. "They've been a very good organization, an elite team, for a long time, so you know you'd better come prepared to play. Getting a win against them does feel good, because you know it's always an elite game."

Islanders: New York opened its season by going 3-1-0, but the Isles have dropped four in a row. Even the point they got in Pittsburgh was a disappointment -- the Islanders couldn't hold a 2-0 third-period lead and lost there for the 12th time in a row.

The best note from the game is that the Isles got both goals from someone other than their first line. Second-line center Frans Nielsen scored in the first period and fourth-line winger Matt Martin made it 2-0 early in the third.

The Isles have to get production from lines other than the trio of John Tavares, Matt Moulson and PA Parenteau if they hope to compete for a playoff berth.

"The last couple of games, we've had some chances," Nielsen said Friday when asked about his line. "We got one (goal) last night, but we would like to score a lot more. As long as we can keep creating chances we are going to score. In the beginning (of the season), we didn't have any chances. At least we've started to create a little bit now so we can score more goals."

Who's Hot: Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi has been in goal for all four wins during the streak, allowing only eight goals. Sharks captain Joe Thornton had two goals on Friday and has eight points in his last five games.

Injury Report: For San Jose, Antero Niittymaki (hip), Alex Stalock (knee) and Frazer McLaren (hip) are on IR, while forward Torrey Mitchell has missed the last two games after sustaining an upper-body injury against the Devils. … In addition to Nabokov, the Islanders are still without rookie forward Nino Niederreiter (groin).

Stat Pack: Ryane Clowe's power-play goal broke the Sharks' 0-for-13 drought on the road. … The Islanders' 16 goals through eight games are one more than the fewest the team has ever scored in that span -- the 1972-74 team managed just 14.

Puck Drop: Before the game, the Islanders will honor the 1992-93 team that upset Washington in the opening round of the playoffs and then pulled one of the great upsets in NHL playoff history by ending the Pittsburgh Penguins' bid for a third consecutive Stanley Cup, winning Game 7 in OT on the road. No Islander team since then has won a playoff series.

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