The New York Islanders look to extend their two-game winning streak as they host the Washington Capitals Tuesday night at the Barclays Center. This will be the fourth of five meetings for these Metropolitan Division rivals. The Capitals have won two of the first three meetings.
The Islanders will start Jaroslav Halak in net. Halak has not played since Dec. 13 when he was in goal for a 4-2 loss to Washington. The holiday break and the Islanders three-goalie rotation resulted in the long gap between starts for Halak. He is 1-1-0 in two starts against Washington this season with one of those starts being a 38-save shutout.
Washington will go with starter Braden Holtby between the pipes. Holtby has played in all three previous games against the Islanders this season and is 11-1-3 in his last 15 games against the Islanders.
The Islanders need to catch the Capitals if they hope to get back into the playoff race in the Metropolitan Division. A regulation win would be very beneficial for the home team.
Washington Capitals vs New York Islanders
Barclays Center – 7:00 PM EST
Broadcast Channels: MSG-Plus 2; CSN-DC
2016-17 Season Series: Oct. 15, 2016: Washington 2, Islanders 1; Dec. 1, 2016: Islanders 3, Washington 0; Dec. 13, 2016: Washington 4, Islanders 2.
New York Islanders – 13-14-6 – 32 points
Home Record: 10-7-4
Hot Players: Anders Lee, John Tavares, Thomas Greiss, Josh Bailey
Key Injuries: Adam Pelech, Casey Cizikas
Anders Lee – John Tavares – Josh Bailey
Andrew Ladd – Alan Quine – Jason Chimera
Shane Prince – Brock Nelson – Anthony Beauvillier
Nikolay Kulemin – Ryan Strome – Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy – Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey – Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan – Dennis Seidenberg
Washington Capitals – 20-8-4 – 44 points
Road Record: 8-3-4
Hot Players: John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, Alex Ovechkin
Key Injuries: None
Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Justin Williams
Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana – Lars Eller – Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner – John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov – Natt Miskanen
Brooks Orpik – Nate Schmidt
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Alex Ovechkin has enjoyed a lot of success against the Islanders. He has 10 goals and 12 points in his last 12 games overall against the Isles and a career mark of 32 goals and 47 points in 44 career games. The Islanders need to find a way to slow “The Great Eight” down, especially on the power play. This season, the Isles have held Ovechkin without a point in the first three meetings between these clubs.
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Washington has fared very well on the road against the Islanders. The Capitals are 5-0-2 in their last seven road contests against the Islanders and 8-1-3 overall in their last dozen games against them. If the Islanders hope to get back into the playoff hunt, they will need to win key head-to-head games against division opponents like Washington.
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The Islanders have to survive the first period to win this game. Washington has been a quick starting team this season, outscoring opponents 28-13 in the first 20 minutes of games. The Islanders have outscored opponents 29-27 in the first period this season and need to keep things close early.
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Anders Lee and Josh Bailey are the hottest players on the Isles right now. Lee has 11 goals and 14 points in his last 15 games to eradicate a slow start to the season. He now leads the team in goals with 12. Bailey, meanwhile, has three goals and 13 points in his last 16 contests including a six-game point streak. It is no coincidence that this duo are linemates with captain John Tavares.
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Despite all the offensive talent on their roster, the Capitals are in the middle of the pack on the power play. Washington is 14th in the NHL with the extra attacker with a 19-percent success rate, although they are ranked ninth on the road. The Islanders have added John Tavares to their penalty-killing rotation since Casey Cizikas’ injury. The Isles PK has been better lately but is still ranked only 24th in the league and must contain the Caps’ power play.
If the Islanders hope to get back into the playoff race, this is the kind of game they need to win. The Isles have to hope Halak is sharp after the long layoff and that Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera continue to play better and are productive against the Capitals.
Long time hockey writer and author of the new book, “Ice Wars: The Complete History of New York’s Greatest Modern Sports Rivalry.” It tells the story behind every game between the Rangers and Islanders dating back to 1972 and features profiles of more than 80 players from both teams and quotes from more than 50 exclusive interviews from players, coaches and broadcasters from both teams.