NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 31st (All times Eastern)
Edmonton Oilers (15-18-3) at New York Islanders (12-17-6), 1 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Islanders and Oilers have combined to win eight games in December and both clubs will try to close out the calendar year on a positive note when New York hosts Edmonton this afternoon at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders have posted a 5-6-2 record in December and are last in the Eastern Conference with 30 points. Edmonton is just 3-10-1 in its last 14 games dating back to late November and is three points ahead of New York in the NHL standings.
New York is coming off a victory, as it notched a 3-1 decision against visiting Calgary on Thursday. John Tavares scored the game-winning goal early in the third period and also added an assist to help the Islanders end a three-game slide.
Andrew MacDonald and Brian Rolston also scored for the Isles, while P.A. Parenteau added a pair of assists. Evgeni Nabokov was solid in net, making 29 saves in the win.
"I think we played with a lot of passion and commitment to our game tonight," Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. "We played hard tonight. It was a game where we really established what we try to do with our identity, which is to get pucks deep and work back behind the goal line."
The Isles had lost four straight on home ice prior to the win over the Flames. They are 7-9-3 at the Coliseum this year and will head out on a three-game road trip following today's tilt.
Meanwhile, the Oilers are making the third stop on a season-long seven-game road trip this afternoon. Edmonton has lost the first two tests on the swing, pushing its road losing streak to six games and dropping the club to 5-12-1 as the guest this season.
Edmonton's latest setback came Thursday in St. Paul, as Dany Heatley scored the eventual game-winning goal late in the second period to lift the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 victory. The Wild had lost eight in a row before picking up a won over the Oilers.
Shawn Horcoff, Taylor Hall and Ladislav Smid tallied for the Oilers. Nikolai Khabibulin was pulled after two periods for giving up four goals on 19 shots. Devan Dubnyk stopped all eight shots he faced in the third.
"I think we've had a lot of one-goal losses this season, a lot of games where we do a lot of good things and the wins piled up, but now the losses are piling up," Hall said. "We still have a lot of games left this season, and if we can play well, we have a good shot at improving our record."
Oilers forward Jordan Eberle notched an assist in Minnesota, giving him a point in six straight games. He has five goals and three helpers during the run and is leading Edmonton in both goals (16) and assists (23) this season.
Edmonton will get defenseman Andy Sutton back today after he sat out the last eight games serving a suspension for an illegal hit on Carolina's Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Fellow Oiler defensemen Alex Plante (facial laceration/concussion) and Ryan Whitney (right ankle tendinitis) are questionable.
The Oilers have won three of the last four meetings with the Islanders overall, but New York has taken the last five encounters on Long Island.
12/31 10:33:15 ET