NEW YORK ISLANDERS (5-6-2) @ TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (7-5-1)
The Islanders began the season playing 10 of 13 games at Barclays Center and now enter a a stretch of where five of their next seven contests will be on the road. It begins with a two-game road trip to Florida, as the Isles are in Tampa Bay tonight before making the short trip to Sunrise to take on the Panthers Saturday. The Islanders have lost all three road games so far this season, and are looking to turn it around tonight against the Lightning.
REVERSING THE TIDE VS. TAMPA
The Islanders have lost their past five games to the Lightning, four of which came in last spring’s Conference Semifinals matchup (Games 2-5). The two clubs met earlier this season on Nov. 1, with Tampa Bay emerging victorious, 6-1.
TAVARES SETTING THE PACE
Captain John Tavares is finding consistency in terms of scoring, registering an assist Monday against the Canucks to extend his point streak to five games. No. 91 now has five goals and six assists this season for a team-leading 11 points, including two power play goals.
The Isles will have to keep a close eye on Tampa winger Nikita Kucherov, who posted four points against the Islanders in their first matchup, lighting the lamp twice and adding two assists. Kucherov enters tonight’s game as Tampa Bay’s leading scorer with four goals and 11 assists for 15 points
The Bolts have enjoyed some excellent special teams play, making their opponents pay when they are on the power play. The Lightning rank fifth in the NHL with the man adavantage, scoring in 13-of-52 power play opportunities, while they also own a tremendous penalty killing unit, killing 87.8% of shorthanded situations this season.