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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 3rd (All times eastern)

New York Islanders (32-23-9) at Washington Capitals (24-29-12), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The New York Islanders hope to rebound from a recent disappointing defeat when the playoff hopefuls start up a brief road trip tonight against the sputtering Washington Capitals.

New York, which is locked in a heated battle for postseason positioning within the Eastern Conference, did manage to pick up a point its last time out. Still, the club blew a chance for an outright victory over visiting St. Louis on Thursday, as the Islanders squandered a two-goal lead and eventually fell to the Blues by a 3-2 count in overtime.

After Jay McClement and Petr Cajanek scored within a 38-second span late in the third period to draw St. Louis even, Lee Stempniak netted the game-winner on the power play 25 seconds into the extra period.

Mike Sillinger and Marc-Andre Bergeron tallied for the Islanders, while Rick DiPietro made 36 saves in the loss. The steady netminder did commit a holding- the-stick penalty, however, that set up Stempniak's deciding tally.

Ryan Smyth assisted on Sillinger's score in his first game as an Islander. The All-Star left wing was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday in one of the biggest and most surprising moves prior to the league's trade deadline.

New York had won four in a row prior to Thursday's setback and has moved into a seventh-place tie in the East. The Isles are knotted with Carolina in the race for the conference's final two berths with 73 points.

Tonight's showdown marks the first of back-to-back road tilts for New York, which will visit the crosstown-rival Rangers on Monday. The Islanders are 14-13-4 away from home this season.

The team historically hasn't had much success in the nation's capital, however. The Islanders are a woeful 2-15-2 (2 ties) in their last 19 regular-season appearances in Washington and lost to the Capitals in a shootout at the Verizon Center last month.

New York has taken six of the last eight overall meetings between the squads, though.

Washington finishes up a four-game homestand this evening. The Capitals have dropped the first three tests of the residency, including Thursday's marathon shootout loss to Tampa Bay. Nick Tarnasky finally put an end to the contest when he beat Caps goaltender Brent Johnson in the 10th round, lifting the Lightning to a 5-4 triumph.

Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist in the defeat, Washington's eighth in its last nine outings. Johnson ended with 25 saves for the Capitals, who fell to 1-10 in shootouts this season.

03/03 11:23:23 ET


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