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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Monday, December 29th (All times eastern)

New York Islanders (11-21-4) at New York Rangers (22-13-3), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Islanders will shoot for their second win this month and the Rangers will try to avoid a fourth straight loss when the New York teams renew their rivalry tonight at Madison Square Garden.

The Islanders are dead last in the NHL with just 26 points on the year and have a 1-9-2 record in December. The Rangers, who lead the Atlantic Division with 47 points, are in the midst of a three-game losing streak -- the club's longest skid of the year.

The Blueshirts and Isles have split a pair of meetings so far this year with each club winning on the opposition's ice. The Islanders have taken seven of the last 11 matchups in the series and have won three straight at the Garden.

The Islanders ended a 10-game losing streak with Friday's 4-1 victory over visiting Toronto, but were handed another setback the following night in Buffalo. Ales Kotalik scored the winner in the shootout as the Sabres defeated the Isles, 4-3, despite blowing a two-goal lead late in the game.

The Islanders scored two goals in the final 1:34 of the third period and tied the contest with just two seconds left on the clock, but after a scoreless overtime the Sabres would win it in the shootout. Still, the Isles were able to salvage a point thanks to their late comeback.

Chris Campoli, Mike Comrie and Jeff Tambellini each had a goal for the Islanders, while Joey MacDonald made 34 stops.

Rick DiPietro is expected to start tonight after earning the win Friday against Toronto, as he made his return after a 27-game absence following knee surgery. DiPietro is 1-2-0 in just four starts this year and is 10-12-2 in 25 career games against the Rangers.

The Islanders have lost nine straight games as the visiting team and have a dismal 5-12-2 road record this season.

The Rangers were handed their third straight setback Saturday against the visiting New Jersey Devils. Travis Zajac had a goal and two assists, as Jersey won in 4-2 fashion at Madison Square Garden.

Nigel Dawes and Dmitri Kalinin each scored for New York, while Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31-of-35 shots in the loss.

The Rangers haven't lost four in a row since a five-game skid from January 2-10 of last season.

The Blueshirts are 12-7-2 as the host this year, but have lost two straight and three of four at MSG. The club is completing a three-game homestand tonight and will next play Saturday night in Washington.

12/29 10:35:49 ET

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