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Struggling Oilers host red-hot Isles

by Brian Compton /
ISLANDERS (12-19-6) at OILERS (12-19-7)


Last 10: New York 7-2-1; Edmonton 1-7-2.

Season Series: This is the lone meeting between the teams. They haven't faced each other since Nov. 2, 2009, when the Islanders earned a 3-1 victory at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Big Story: Rick DiPietro is injured again, although this one doesn't appear to be serious. The No. 1 pick from the 2000 Entry Draft suffered a groin strain during the second period of New York's 5-2 win against the Calgary Flames on Monday night, but is listed as day-to-day. The Islanders promoted Kevin Poulin from AHL Bridgeport on an emergency basis.

"I don't know if a man's body is supposed to be contorted in those positions," DiPietro told Newsday. "I felt a little twinge and hopefully it's nothing serious."
Team Scope:

Islanders: New York is on a roll, as it enters Thursday's action with a record of 7-1-1 over its last nine games. The Islanders started their three-game winning streak by ending Sidney Crosby's remarkable run of points in 25 straight games, then won at Detroit on New Year's Eve before dousing the Flames on Monday.

"Things are starting to pay off," said second-year center John Tavares, who had two goals and an assist in Calgary. "We're really finding our chemistry and we're outworking other teams."

Oilers: Edmonton is aiming to avoid an eight-game winless streak, as it last won a game way back on Dec. 16 against Columbus. The skid reached seven on Tuesday night, when the Oilers dropped a 5-3 decision to the Red Wings at Rexall Place.

When the Detroit Red Wings come in here you kind of hope you are going to be OK instead of just going," Edmonton coach Tom Renney said. "That's what we have to do.

"We just have to go. I would rather have a tough night because we are going after things and stepping on the gas than playing with trepidation. You have to go after them and see what we are capable of."

Who's Hot: Tavares recorded three points for the second straight game -- including two power-play goals -- on Monday. He has 13 points in his last nine games. Andrew MacDonald has 10 points in his last 11 contests and Matt Moulson had three goals in his last two. … Oilers forward Sam Gagner had a goal and an assist Tuesday night. He has three points in his last two games.

Injury Report: Besides DiPietro, Isles center Frans Nielsen is also day-to-day with a groin injury. The team will be without Mark Streit (shoulder), Kyle Okposo (shoulder), Mark Eaton (hip), Mike Mottau (hip), Trent Hunter (knee), Doug Weight (back) and Radek Martinek (wrist). … Oilers forward Jordan Eberle is day-to-day with an ankle injury, while Shawn Horcoff (knee) and Ryan Whitney (knee) are out.

Stat Pack: Monday night marked the fourth time since 1987 that an Islanders goalie was credited with a win despite playing less than half of the game. Nathan Lawson relieved DiPietro in the second period and stopped 28 of 29 shots.

Puck Drop:  "We can't be content with losing close games. We have to play like we do when it's 3-0 or 3-1. That's the mentality we need here all the time. When we're down by two or three there's urgency and desperation. It's when we have nothing to lose that we start to play the game differently. We need that mindset all of the game." -- Oilers forward Sam Gagner

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