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Struggling Wild return home to host Islanders

by Brian Compton

ISLANDERS (11-21-7) at WILD (20-15-5)


Last 10: New York 3-5-2; Minnesota 3-7-0.

Season series: This is the first of two games between the New York Islanders and Minnesota Wild. They will face each other again on March 18 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Big story: The Wild open a four-game homestand Sunday with hopes of putting an end to a four-game losing streak. Each game in the skid has been decided in regulation and Minnesota has been outscored 19-8.

They'll attempt to end the streak without the services of top forward Zach Parise, who was placed on injured reserve Saturday due to a lower-body injury. Parise, who has 15 goals in 37 games, has missed the past two games since re-aggravating an injury he sustained Nov. 25.

"He wants to be in the lineup. Hopefully every day he gets his rest is a day we get closer to him coming back," coach Mike Yeo told the Star Tribune on Saturday. "He wants to get on the ice and he wants to help the team. He's a huge part of our team. We can't wait to have him back."

Team Scope:

Islanders: New York failed to generate much offense Saturday night, when it played its first game without No. 1 center John Tavares for the first time in more than three years. The Islanders' power play was inept (0-for-3) in a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Now 11 points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division, the Islanders hit the road for two games. They will visit the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, faced with the uncertainty of when Tavares (39 points in 38 games) will be back in the lineup.

"I don't know … just day-to-day right now," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said of Tavares, who had appeared in 246 consecutive games dating back to October 2010. "We'll know a little bit more [Sunday]."

Wild: After scoring four goals in its previous three games, Minnesota finally generated some offense Friday, only to suffer a 6-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre to conclude a four-game road trip that saw the Wild go 0-4-0 and fall to 6-12-3 away from the Xcel Energy Center.

Now that they're back home, they're hoping they can reverse their fortunes. Eight of the next 11 games will be played in Minnesota.

"It's huge," defenseman Ryan Suter said. "We can't win on the road, so we better make sure we play hard at home."

Goaltender Johan Gustafsson was reassigned to the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League, which should pave the way for the return of No. 1 goalie Josh Harding, who had been on IR while receiving treatment for multiple sclerosis.

Who's hot: Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo had an assist Saturday, extending his point streak to five games (two goals, three assists). Left wing Thomas Vanek has a four-game point streak (three goals, two assists). … Wild right wing Jason Pominville has a four-game point streak (two goals, three assists).

Injury update: Besides Tavares, the Islanders are also missing defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) and Radek Martinek (back). Forward Josh Bailey appeared to suffer an upper-body injury when he was driven hard into the boards in the third period Saturday. Capuano didn't have an update on Bailey after the game. … Minnesota is expected to be without defenseman Clayton Stoner (lower body). He did not play Friday.

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