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Solid at home, Maple Leafs welcome in Islanders

by Brian Hunter

ISLANDERS (8-10-3) at MAPLE LEAFS (12-7-1)


Last 10: New York 4-6-0; Toronto 5-4-1

Season series: This is the first of three meetings between the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs. The teams played some high-scoring games in 2012-13, with the Islanders winning two of three. Nazem Kadri of the Maple Leafs led all scorers with four goals, including a hat trick in Toronto's only win, a 5-4 overtime decision on Feb. 28.

Big story: Kadri won't be in the lineup Tuesday as he serves the finale of a three-game suspension for an illegal hit on Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom. Another masked man, Evgeni Nabokov, will be missing from the Islanders lineup for possibly several weeks. He was placed on injured reserve Monday and Anders Nilsson recalled from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League.

Team Scope:

Islanders: Kevin Poulin has been getting a longer look in the New York crease, starting three consecutive games in the past week, and he ended up playing most of Saturday's 5-4 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings after Nabokov went down with a groin injury.

Now the 23-year-old has the chance to help the Islanders climb in the Metropolitan Division standings with Nabokov set to miss at least four weeks, according to Newsday. Poulin has a 2.68 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 29 career NHL appearances over four seasons.

"I think every player that works his way up from the minors, every player who pays his dues, wants that opportunity," coach Jack Capuano told Newsday. "Kevin's no different than Brock Nelson or Aaron Ness or Matt Donovan. He's going to get to play some more hockey in a very different role."

Maple Leafs: Air Canada Centre has provided some quality home cooking so far, as Toronto carries a 7-2-0 mark into Tuesday's action. The Maple Leafs started a five-game homestand with a 4-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, salvaging a split of a home-and-home.

They also made a transaction that day, acquiring forwards Peter Holland and Brad Staubitz from the Anaheim Ducks. Staubitz will report to the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies, but Holland found himself on the first line at practice Monday, centering James van Riemsdyk and Joffrey Lupul. Phil Kessel has the flu and was not present for practice.

"It's not just a short-term solution," general manager Dave Nonis told the National Post about the trade for Holland. "We look at the long term for him and we think he has the potential to be a long-term player for us. Whether or not he continues to contribute here will depend on his play."

Who's hot: Islanders captain John Tavares has two goals and six assists during a five-game point streak. Casey Cizikas has goals in consecutive games. … Mason Raymond has two goals and two assists during a three-game point streak for the Maple Leafs, while van Riemsdyk had a two-goal game Saturday against the Sabres.

Injury report: New York forward Thomas Vanek (upper body) has missed the past four games. In addition to Nabokov, defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) and Brian Strait (upper body) are on injured reserve. … Toronto forward Tyler Bozak (lower body) practiced Monday but is on long-term IR and not eligible to return until Nov. 21. Forward Dave Bolland (ankle) is on injured reserve and defenseman Mark Fraser (lower body) is day-to-day.

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