After failing to hold the lead Tuesday night, the New York Islanders will be looking to rebound tonight at home. Tonight marks the second game of a four game homestand as the Islanders welcome the Edmonton Oilers to town. Things in Islanders country haven’t looked so great at home the past few games. Why? Because the Islanders have participated in three shootouts through six games this season and have been tied after 65 minutes in six of their last 10 games dating back to last season.
This will be the first trip for the Oilers into the Coliseum since December 31, 2011, a 4-1 victory for the Islanders. In fact, the Islanders have taken two of three and eight of the last 11 meetings in this series overall.
Tuesday night, Islanders coach Jack Capuano tweaked his lines to try and get some offensive punch going, and it worked pretty well to the tune of three goals and a season high 44 shots on net. For the most part, the coaching staff plans on sticking with that mixed bag of lines again tonight. The only major change to the lineup is that Eric Boulton is scratched and Colin McDonald is taking his place on the fourth line. Otherwise it’s the exact same line combos from Tuesday night.
Three things are going to be key for me tonight if the Islanders expect to come away with a win. First is pretty obvious which is play a full 60-minute hockey game and don’t take their foot off the gas pedal. That’s what worked early in the season, but since then the Islanders have struggled to play a full 60-minute game in their last three outings. If they play their game for a full 60 minutes, they will be just fine.
Second is going to be goaltending. Evgeni Nabokov will be getting the start in net tonight, but he hasn’t looked all that sharp in his last few starts. He’s let in a few goals that he would have wanted to have back. Playing in net against the Oilers tonight might be just the medicine he needs, as he is 6-1-0 with a 2.12 goals-against average in his last seven meetings with Edmonton. Nabokov will be looking to have a strong game tonight.
Third is the Islanders have to keep their emotions in check. There were times Tuesday night where the Islanders were making mental mistakes, spending too much time in the penalty box. If they can change that, maybe even force the Oilers to take more penalties, that would be of great benefit to the Islanders. Edmonton has the worst penalty kill in the league at 66.7 percent, so that is something the Islanders are going to try and exploit tonight.