NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, October 20th (All times Eastern)
New York Islanders (3-1-0) at Tampa Bay Lightning (1-3-2), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The New York Islanders had the luxury of playing in Uniondale for their first four games of the season and will hit the road for the first time tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Islanders are 3-1-0 on the season and young star John Tavares is a big reason for the promising start. Tavares had two goals and two assists last week in a 5-1 win versus the Lightning, then recorded a hat trick and an assist in Saturday's 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers.
Tavares is the first Islander since Robert Reichel in 1997 to post consecutive four-point games.
"You're not going to say no to production like that," Tavares said. "It's nice to produce, it's what I do best. I take a lot of pride in it. It's nice to come through."
Evgeni Nabokov made his first start in an Islanders uniform and had 29 saves. The Isles used Al Montoya in the first three contests in place of an injured Rick DiPietro. Nabokov, who was suspended by the Isles last spring for refusing to report to the team after being claimed off waivers, played part of last season in Russia's KHL. He was then signed by Detroit as a free agent in January 2011 before being claimed on waivers by the Isles two days later.
Nabokov is two wins behind Ron Hextall (296) for 26th place in the league's all-time list. Matt Moulson also scored in the recent win for the Isles, whose six points match their highest total through four games since 2001-02. Moulson extended his games-played streak to 168. Jay Pandolfo is one goal shy of his 100th and Brian Rolston needs 10 more games to reach 1,200 in his career.
New York will also visit Florida on its first road trip of the season.
Meanwhile, the Lightning own just one win in six tries so far this season and haven't tasted victory since a 5-1 triumph at Carolina on Oct. 7. Their season-high losing streak reached five games with Monday's 7-4 loss versus Florida in the back end of a home-and-home series.
Teddy Purcell, Victor Hedman, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos netted the goals for Tampa Bay, which got 26 saves from goaltender Dwayne Roloson. Marc- Andre Bergeron extended his point streak to four games, the team's longest of the season, with three assists.
"The thing we don't want to do is panic here. The reality is we have to get better and we have to get some chemistry now and we just have not had things together," said Tampa head coach Guy Boucher. "Right now it's not that we are doing everything bad, we just are having trouble getting it all together in the same game."
Tampa Bay will resume a three-game homestand tonight versus the Islanders and Sabres. Martin St. Louis is expected to play his 479th consecutive game tonight for the Lightning, who rank third in the NHL for goals scored with 18 over the club's first six contests. Lecavalier is seven assists shy of 450 and four points shy of 800 for his career.
New York defeated the Lightning one week ago at Nassau Coliseum and is 5-1-0 in the last six games in this series. The Islanders won both games at St. Pete Times Forum last season. Tampa Bay is 37-31-3-5 all-time against New York, which has dropped 10 of the past 15 meetings as the guest.
10/20 10:44:00 ET