Sports

Isles visit Blackhawks aiming to avoid 4th straight loss

(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Islanders hope to avoid their worst losing streak of the season when the struggling club visits the Chicago Blackhawks for Tuesday's clash in the Windy City.

The Islanders have lost three straight -- all in regulation -- to match their longest skid of 2014-15. It is the fourth 0-3-0 stretch of the campaign for New York and has helped knock the club out of first place in the Metropolitan Division.

The slide began with last Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers, who entered that showdown three points behind their rivals from Long Island for the division lead but now hold a five-point advantage over the second-place Isles.

After beginning the three-game homestand with the loss to the Rangers, the Islanders capped the stay at Nassau Coliseum with a pair of weekend setbacks. New York fell to Ottawa, 2-1, on Friday before losing 3-1 the next night versus Montreal.

The Canadiens had lost five of six heading into Saturday's tilt, but they scored twice in a span of 2 minutes, 15 seconds early in the second period to give them enough offense to down New York. Carey Price stopped 35 shots for Montreal in the win.

Josh Bailey netted the lone score for the Islanders, who are now only two points ahead of Pittsburgh for second place and just four ahead of Washington.

"We have a lot of work to do," said Bailey. "We have to sharpen up."

Michal Neuvirth made 27 saves in defeat. With No. 1 netminder Jaroslav Halak day-to-day with a lower-body injury, Neuvirth is expected to start again tonight. The Islanders recalled goaltender Kevin Poulin from Bridgeport of the AHL to presumably serve as the backup.

Saturday's loss was New York's fourth straight home defeat. The club is 20-12-4 on the road and will visit New Jersey on Saturday to complete a two- game swing before ending March with four straight at the Coliseum.

While the Isles are struggling, Chicago enters Tuesday's battle on a five-game point streak. The Blackhawks are 4-0-1 this month after ending February with a 4-0 setback in Tampa.

Chicago recently won both tests of a brief trip to Arizona and San Jose. The Blackhawks earned a 2-1 win over the Coyotes on Thursday before riding a strong third period to Saturday's win over the Sharks.

The tilt in San Jose was tied 2-2 after 40 minutes, but the Blackhawks scored four unanswered in the third period to breeze to a 6-2 victory at the Shark Tank.

Brandon Saad, Bryan Bickell, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa all scored in the final 20 minutes.

Sharp added a first-period marker for his first goal in 19 games (Jan. 28) and recorded his first multi-goal effort since picking up a hat trick against the Devils on Jan. 3, 2014

Duncan Keith also lit the lamp, while Brent Seabrook and Antoine Vermette added two assists each for the Blackhawks, who have won six of their last eight contests. Vermette's helpers were his first points with Chicago since being dealt from the Coyotes.

Corey Crawford picked up the win thanks to 33 saves.

"(Crawford) has been solid as you'd ever want," said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.

Crawford is expected to be back in net tonight for Chicago, which sits third in the Central Division with 88 points. The Hawks are five behind Nashville and St. Louis for the Central lead and five ahead of fourth-place Minnesota.

Chicago is 21-9-5 as the host this season. The club begins a four-game road trip tomorrow night against the New York Rangers.

The Isles have won two straight over the Blackhawks after dropping the previous three meetings in this series. New York earned a 3-2 home regulation win over Chicago on Dec. 13, but has lost three straight in the Windy City.