(SportsNetwork.com) - The struggling New York Islanders hope to maintain their recent success over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night when the Eastern Conference residents clash on Long Island.
The Isles have won each of their past four meetings with the Red Wings, outscoring Detroit by a 17-4 margin in that span. The clubs last met on Jan. 10, 2012 in New York, with the Islanders notching a 5-1 win thanks in part to a goal and two assists by John Tavares.
New York has lost five of its past six overall and failed to hold a two-goal lead in Thursday's 3-2 setback to the Los Angeles Kings. Netminder Kevin Poulin stopped all 15 shots he faced over the first 40 minutes, but ended up yielding three goals in the third and ended with 21 saves in total.
"I don't think we had the same energy in the third that we had in the first two (periods)," said Poulin. "We didn't play the way we could and that's what happened."
Casey Cizikas and Aaron Ness both scored for the Islanders, with Ness notching his first NHL goal in what was his fifth game this season and 14th of his career. Tavares had an assist to give him six points over his past four games.
Winger Thomas Vanek sat out his third game in a row with an upper-body injury and is aiming to return tonight. He has a goal and two assists in six games since coming over from Buffalo in a trade.
Poulin, who has made three straight starts, has never before faced the Red Wings, while veteran Evgeni Nabokov is 9-17-2 with a 3.44 goals against average versus them lifetime. He has not started since Nov. 9.
The Red Wings come into this clash on their longest losing streak of the season, having gone 0-1-4 in their last five outings. Each of their last four games have gone past regulation, including last night's 4-3 shootout setback to the Washington Capitals.
Johan Franzen scored twice and had an assist, while Danny DeKeyser had a goal and a helper. Still, Detroit could not hold a two-goal lead in the third period and Jimmy Howard yielded the lone shootout tally after posting 30 saves through overtime.
"We need to find a way to get one more and win the game," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "That's all there is to it. You either need to keep them from getting that tying goal, or get the extra one and make it harder for them."
Forward Daniel Alfredsson was a late scratch due to a strained groin and his status for this game is unknown.
Detroit is trying to avoid its first six-game slide since an 0-4-2 skid from March 10-21, 2012. The Wings are also 0-6-1 in their past seven at home and returns to Detroit for three straight after this contest.
Jonas Gustavsson is expected to start this game for the Red Wings. He has made four appearances and three starts this season and it will mark his first action since a relief stint on Oct. 23.
Gustavsson is 3-0-0 with a 2.13 GAA this season and 2-1-1 versus the Islanders lifetime with a 1.72 GAA in four games (3 starts).