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Surging Preds set to host reeling Isles

by Brian Compton /
ISLANDERS (5-17-5) at PREDATORS (14-8-6)

TV: MSG-Plus.

Last 10: New York 1-7-2; Nashville 5-2-3.

Season Series: This is the lone meeting between the teams. They last faced each other on Feb. 9, when the Isles earned a 4-3 shootout victory at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Big Story: The Islanders are finding new ways to lose each game. On Saturday night, they blew a 2-0 lead and allowed a shorthanded goal directly off a faceoff in a 5-4 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers on Long Island. The same team that got off to a 4-1-2 start has one victory since Oct. 21.

"I had my head down, getting set," Isles goalie Rick DiPietro said of Bryan Little's wacky tally. "When I picked my head up, the puck was in the net. Usually you just get set and I get my head up and they drop the puck, but maybe I didn't do it fast enough. I don't know. It's sickening.

"The hard work's there. The effort's there. I feel like I want to throw up right now. That's how the locker room feels. That's how I feel."

Team Scope:

Islanders: The frustration level is at an all-time high on Long Island. Saturday's loss to the Thrashers was their 19th in 20 games (1-16-3) and has them with a League-low 15 points.

"It's frustrating," center Rob Schremp said. "They score a goal off a faceoff. What are you going to do? It's just stupid. It's just bad breaks. What are you going to do … break sticks, slam doors, scream, yell? I don't know. Nobody likes losing. We're all competitive guys and we want to win. What can you do? We work so hard. This is stupid."

Predators: Nashville has earned points in every game this month, as Saturday's 3-0 win against the Florida Panthers at Bridgestone Arena improved its December record to 4-0-1. Anders Lindback stopped all 22 shots he faced against the Panthers for his first NHL shutout.

"I feel more and more comfortable," said Lindback, who is 3-0-1 in his last four starts. "You get into it when you start to play continuously. I get really good help from the defense. I don't have to face as many chances."

Who's Hot: Matt Moulson scored his team-leading 10th goal for the Isles on Saturday night. He also now leads the club with 16 points. … Preds forward Steve Sullivan has three points (2 goals, 1 assist) in his last four games.

Injury Report: The Islanders will be without Mark Streit (shoulder), Kyle Okposo (shoulder), Mike Mottau (eye), Milan Jurcina (hamstring), Radek Martinek (arm), Doug Weight (back) and Trent Hunter (knee). … Pekka Rinne (knee), David Legwand (lower body) and Matthew Lombardi (concussion) are out for Nashville.

Stat Pack: Blake Comeau's power-play tally late in the third period on Saturday night ended a string of 46 consecutive opportunities without a goal via the man advantage. It was the Isles' first in 13 games. … Twenty-seven of Nashville's 71 goals this season have come in the first period.

Puck Drop: "It's tough to explain. We've just got to keep battling. We're not quitting." -- Isles interim coach Jack Capuano on team's tailspin

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