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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, October 16th (All times eastern)

New York Islanders (1-2-0) at Tampa Bay Lightning (0-2-1), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will try once again for their first victory of the season when they host the New York Islanders tonight at St. Pete Times Forum. Meanwhile, the Islanders will try to turn the page after Monday's blowout loss to Buffalo.

The Lightning opened the season with a two-game series in the Czech Republic against the New York Rangers and were swept after losing both contests by a 2-1 count. Tampa then lost its official home opener in overtime Saturday against Carolina.

Eric Staal's second goal of the game with 23.6 seconds left in OT led the Hurricanes to the 4-3 decision.

With time winding down in the extra session, a turnover in the Carolina end resulted in Ray Whitney grabbing the puck and skating down the other end on a 2-on-1 break. On the fly, Whitney faked a shot from the top of the right circle and fed the puck to Staal, who shot it into the virtually empty net for the win.

Vincent Lecavalier, Mark Recchi and Janne Niskala each scored a goal for the Lightning, who are still trying to get new coach Barry Melrose his first win for Tampa. Mike Smith stopped 42 shots in the loss.

Tonight marks the second test of a five-game homestand for the Lightning, who were 20-18-3 as the hosts a year ago.

The Islanders are 1-2-0 on the season and are coming off a 7-1 home loss to the Sabres. Thomas Vanek scored twice to help Buffalo crush New York in the afternoon contest at Nassau Coliseum.

Trent Hunter scored the lone goal while Joey MacDonald was shelled for all seven goals on 35 shots for the Islanders.

MacDonald has started all three games in goal for the Isles this year, as franchise goaltender Rick DiPietro continues to recover from offseason hip surgery. The first overall pick of the 2000 draft suffered the injury at All- Star weekend last January and underwent season-ending surgery in March.

DiPietro is unlikely to go tonight, as New York head coach Scott Gordon may use MacDonald as the starter one more time and possibly let his No. 1 backstop make his season debut Saturday at Florida. DiPietro, who has battled hip and knee injuries during his career, went 26-28-7 with a 2.82 goals against average in 63 starts last year.

The Islanders were just 17-20-4 as the road club in 2007-08 and are shooting for their first winning contest as the visitor this evening.

New York won three of four matchups with Tampa Bay last season, but the Lightning have still taken nine of the last 12 in the series. The Isles have also dropped five of six and seven of their last nine games at the Forum.

10/16 11:00:34 ET


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