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Preds try to extend surge against Islanders

The surging Nashville Predators will take aim at a fifth straight victory when they visit the New York Islanders for this afternoon's Martin Luther King Day matinee at Nassau Coliseum.

The Predators have won four straight and can tie a season-high win streak with another victory today. Nashville, which previously won five straight from Dec. 8-17, has also won seven of its last eight and has compiled a 13-4 record over its last 17 trips to the ice.

As a result of its recent strong play, the Preds are currently sitting sixth in the Western Conference standings and are one point ahead of Los Angeles.

The Predators picked up their most recent victory Saturday night against visiting Philadelphia. Martin Erat and Mike Fisher posted a goal and assist each as Nashville downed the Flyers, 4-2, at Bridgestone Arena.

Nick Spaling and Sergei Kostitsyn also tallied for the Predators, while Pekka Rinne came up with 36 saves. Rinne has been in net for all four games during the current win streak and is 23-11-4 this season.

"They get a lot of their goals off the rush and in the blue paint," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "You have to win the crease area and tonight we did a pretty good job of that."

Nashville forward Craig Smith missed Saturday's game due to flu-like symptoms and the impressive rookie is questionable for today. Smith is tied for fourth among NHL rookies with 26 points this season.

This afternoon's tilt marks the start of a three-game road trip for the Predators, who are 11-8-1 as the visiting team this season. Nashville will stay in the New York City area to battle the Rangers tomorrow and will then cap the swing Thursday in Columbus.

The Islanders are currently tied for last in the Eastern Conference with 38 points, but they have won two of their last three games. New York notched a 4-2 victory in its last trip to the ice, as Michael Grabner scored two goals, including the game-winner late in the third period, to lift the Isles to a win over the visiting Buffalo Sabres.

"Grabs (Grabner) works extremely hard every night," Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. "He's getting his chances. He hasn't gotten the bounces that he's wanted, but tonight he was in the right place at the right time on that rebound and put it in the back of the net for us, which was great to see."

Matt Moulson had a goal and an assist and Kyle Okposo also found the back of the net for the Islanders, who bounced back from a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Philadelphia on Thursday. John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau added a pair of assists apiece and Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves in the victory for New York.

Tavares has recorded a point in eight straight games and has four goals and 11 assists over that span. He is leading the Isles with 42 points this season.

In other news for the Islanders, goaltender Rick DiPietro is expected to miss the rest of the season with a sports hernia injury that will require surgery. The highly-paid netminder has been sidelined since December 3, first with a groin strain and then with the sports hernia and knee swelling. He has a 3-2-3 mark with a 3.73 GAA in eight games this season.

New York is 10-10-3 as the host this year and is completing a four-game homestand today.

Nashville is 6-0-1 in the last seven meetings with the Isles overall, but New York has taken three of the previous four matchups at the Coliseum.