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PREVIEW: Oilers at Islanders

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers
TV: Sportsnet West & Sportsnet Oilers (HD)

RADIO: 630 CHED & Oilers Radio Network
PUCK DROP: 5:08 p.m. MT


UNIONDALE, NY - The last time the Oilers won a game on the road against the New York Islanders was on December 14, 1999 and they sport a record of 0-5-1 against them since that win. They'll get their chance to re-write the series history tonight at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY.

The Oilers and Islanders have a lot in common according to Edmonton Head Coach Dallas Eakins.

"They've got some good, young talent there," said Eakins. "They've got some players that we're going to really have to key on. I think maybe a group that's similar to ours. I think they've had a few struggles as of late and a team that we're going to try to jump on and let them feel some of the pain that we've been feeling the last couple of weeks."

The Islanders are 2-2-2 on the season and currently on a three-game losing streak while the Oilers are 1-5-1 having lost four in a row.


The Oilers will start Devan Dubnyk in net tonight against the Islanders. The netminder has sat out the last two games and has 5.43 goals against average in four games this season.

Dubnyk is ready to try and right the ship tonight.

"I think he's going to get in there and battle and try to get through the start that he's had," said Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "I'm not going to tip-toe around it and neither is Devan. He hasn't played as well as we'd hoped. I talked to him this morning and he seems to be in a great frame of mind and he's ready to go out there and battle for his teammates."

"Obviously you want to get out there and you want to play well and you want to get things rolling," said Dubnyk. "But it's not a good mindset to be in to just be so overanxious. That's a little bit how I felt in the last couple of games. Obviously, you care about guys in here and you want to turn things around for them but goaltending is a reactive position so you can only really do what they throw at you.

"You can't really go out there and be proactive and change things. You can be proactive when they come your way so that's it. I just got to try to relax and sit back there and it's cliche, but take it one at a time."


When the New York Islanders host the Edmonton Oilers tonight, two players in particular will be forced to put aside a friendship, don the opposing sweaters and compete against the other.

Oilers centre Mark Arcobello and Islanders defenceman Matt Donovan have an interesting history.

"I became really good friends and roomed with Sean Backman, who was one of his really good friends at Yale," said Donovan. "I kind of met him through him and then I lived in Arcobello's house last year in Milford (Connecticut). I've just grown to know him and talked to him a lot so we have a pretty good relationship. He's a good kid, so I've grown to be pretty good friends with him."

"It will be good but there's no friends on the ice," said Arcobello on playing against Donovan. "I'll talk to him afterwards."

-- Chris Wescott,


OILERS (1-5-1) at ISLANDERS (2-2-2)


Season series: This is the first of two meetings this season between the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders. They will face each other again on March 6 at Rexall Place.

Big story: Edmonton has gotten off to a rough start under new coach Dallas Eakins. The Oilers have won once in their first seven games and have allowed a League-high 32 goals. New York has won twice in its first six games and has already allowed a couple of third-period leads and points in the standings to slip away.

Team Scope:

Oilers: Edmonton enters Thursday’s action hoping to put an end to a four-game skid. The Oilers played better Tuesday, but suffered a 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center. Evgeni Malkin broke a 2-2 tie with a power-play goal at 7:20 of the third period.

"To have done the job so far and everything's going all right for us and it's a fanned shot and it goes right to the most dangerous guy on the ice, the hockey gods aren't lined up for us right now," Eakins said. "We'll do an exorcism and see if they give us more leeway."

Islanders: For the second time in three home games this season, the Islanders failed to protect a third-period lead in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. New York was 2:01 away from picking up two points in the standings, but Marcus Foligno erased a 3-2 deficit and the Sabres would go on to win in a shootout, their first victory of the season. They entered Tuesday’s action having scored seven goals in seven losses.

“Last night we played our game for the most part,” Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo told the team’s website Wednesday. “We were physical. Tenacious. We were beating guys to pucks. We had a couple bad bounces – that happens sometimes. But if we play like that, we’re going to win a lot more games than we lose.”

Who's hot: Oilers wings Taylor Hall and David Perron each have a goal and five assists through seven games, while center Mark Arcobello has six assists. Center Boyd Gordon has four goals and right wings Jordan Eberle and Ales Hemsky have two goals and three assists. Veteran forward Ryan Smyth, a former Islander, has three goals in six games. … Islanders forwards Frans Nielsen (three goals, four assists), John Tavares (three goals, four assists) and Michael Grabner (two goals, five assists) have seven points in six games. Josh Bailey has two goals and four assists.

Injury report: Oilers center Sam Gagner (broken jaw) is out. Forwards Ryan Hamilton and Steve MacIntyre are questionable with knee injuries. Defenseman Corey Potter (back) is questionable. … New York is boasting a healthy lineup.

-- Brian Compton - Staff Writer

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