Isles welcome surging Wild
(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Islanders try to start up a four-game homestand with a much-needed second straight victory on Tuesday night as they take on the Minnesota Wild.
The Islanders finally halted a potentially-damaging four-game slide with Saturday's 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils. New York's skid has dropped it seven points behind the New York Rangers for first place in the Metropolitan Division and it is now just two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for second place.
The Islanders have played two more games than the Rangers and one more than the Penguins. The Blueshirts and Pens are both in action tonight as well and the Isles also have to keep an eye on the idle fourth-place Washington Capitals, who are only four points out of second place.
Jaroslav Halak returned from a two-game absence caused by a lower-body injury to blank the Devils. He notched 26 saves to record his fifth shutout of the season and 35th of his career.
Ryan Strome and Travis Hamonic each had a goal and one assist for the Islanders, who also got a boost from the return of Nick Leddy. The defenseman missed the last four games with an upper-body injury.
"We broke down a little bit. They had a few odd-man rushes, but when you work hard, it pays dividends and we got the two points," said Islanders coach Jack Capuano.
The Wild continued their playoff push with last night's 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was their fifth victory in seven games and has the Wild a point ahead of the Winnipeg Jets for the first wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Minnesota is five points behind the third-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division with nine games to play.
Devan Dubnyk made his 31st straight start last night and posted 35 saves to get the win. He improved to 23-6-1 over that span.
Thomas Vanek posted a goal and assisted on Charlie Coyle's tally as Minnesota won its ninth in a row on the road. It's 21 wins as the guest this season also is a club record.
"There's never any panic with this team," said Dubnyk. "We've proved we can win any number of ways. I was sure we were going to hang on and we did it."
Vanek has six goals and four assists over an eight-game point streak. He had a goal and an assist in the Wild's 5-4 home victory over the Islanders on Dec. 9.
Minnesota has won its past two versus the Islanders and snapped a two-game slide on Long Island with a 6-0 win on March 18 of last year.