Islanders at Rangers
Mired in a five-game losing skid, the New York Islanders travel downtown on Thursday to visit the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, where they haven’t won since Dec. 26, 2009. The Rangers have outscored the Islanders 35-11 en route to eight straight wins at home, including a 4-1 victory last Thursday. Rookie J.T. Miller scored his first two NHL goals in that game while goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves to improve to 25-11-5 against the Islanders. The Rangers are 5-2-0 at home this season and have won their last three games, although they almost squandered a three-goal lead in a 4-3 shootout win in Boston on Tuesday.
John Tavares leads the Islanders with 15 points and has goals in his last three games. Tavares also leads the team with 45 shots. Rick Nash is the Rangers’ leading scorer with 10 points thus far and has a team-leading 47 shots. Carl Hagelin has three goals and four points in his last two games for the Rangers, finding chemistry on a line with Nash and Derek Stepan, who scored his second goal of the season in Tuesday’s victory. Michael Grabner has five goals in 12 games for the Islanders this season, but only two goals in his last nine games.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG, MSG Plus
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (4-7-1): Rick DiPietro started his second game of the season and allowed five goals in Monday’s 6-4 loss to Carolina. Evgeni Nabokov has a 3.00 goals-against average and .897 save percentage through 10 starts. The Islanders scored four power-play goals in the loss to Carolina after going 0-for-22 with the man advantage in their previous four games. Matt Moulson has six goals and 13 points this season after scoring 30 goals in each of his previous three.
ABOUT THE RANGERS (7-5-0): Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards both have nine points on the season. Gaborik has six goals while Richards has seven assists. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh leads the team in blocked shots with 30, while Dan Girardi has 26 and Marc Staal has 21 to go with seven points, which leads all Rangers defensemen. The Rangers' power play is downright cold this season with just four goals on 44 opportunities. Captain Ryan Callahan has two of those goals, but only three on the season and is minus-2.
1. Tavares has 20 points in 18 career games against the Rangers. Gaborik has 20 goals and 34 points in 28 career games against the Islanders.
2. The Islanders have allowed 20 goals during their five-game losing streak.
3. Islanders F Josh Bailey has one assist in two games since recovering from a knee injury he suffered playing overseas during the lockout.
PREDICTION: Rangers 5, Islanders 1