Published February 06, 2017
NEW YORK -- In discussing the fluid nature of the NHL playoff picture Saturday night, interim New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight may as well have been speaking on behalf of the team's next opponent.
"We've got some big games coming up, and none bigger than Monday," Weight said. "A week can put you a point out of the playoffs or in the playoffs. So, we've got to have a good week."
So, do the Toronto Maple Leafs, who visit the Islanders at Barclays Center in a matchup Monday night of two teams trying to climb into playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
The Islanders' playoff push stalled Saturday, when they fell to the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-4, in overtime. It was the second loss in as many nights for New York, which lost to the host Detroit Red Wings by the same score on Friday.
The Maple Leafs snapped a three-game losing streak Saturday, when they outlasted the host Boston Bruins, 6-5. The back-and-forth nature of the victory didn't bother head coach Mike Babcock, who was just grateful Toronto finally earned a win.
"I've been in a number of these over the years where your club doesn't win in a while and it's usually ugly when you finally do win," Babcock said. "That was the ugly one and we appreciate winning."
With the win, the Maple Leafs (24-17-9) moved one point behind the third-place Bruins in the Atlantic Division.
"We knew it was a big game, not only in the standings but (also because) we wanted to get back on the right track and get in the win column," Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly said.
The Islanders, whose back-to-back losses were their first since a three-game losing streak from Jan. 6-11, are tied for 12th place in the Eastern Conference and five points behind the second wild card, the Philadelphia Flyers.
"I really feel like we should have won this one," Islanders right winger Josh Bailey said. "Same with (Friday) night. Tough ones to swallow, but it's not the time of year to dwell on anything. Just have to pull our socks up and get to work."
The Islanders' number one goaltender, Thomas Greiss, will likely start in net against the Maple Leafs' top goalie, Frederik Andersen.
Greiss didn't play Saturday, when backup Jean-Francois Berube recorded 20 saves against the Hurricanes. He is 7-3-3 since taking over as the Islanders' unquestioned starter on Dec. 31, one day after New York waived Jaroslav Halak.
Andersen earned the win Saturday, when he made 36 saves. He has earned a win in three of his last four decisions dating back to Jan. 23.
The game Monday will be the second of three this season between the Islanders and Maple Leafs. New York beat Toronto, 5-1, at Barclays Center on Oct. 30. The series concludes at Air Canada Centre on Feb. 14.