Islanders try to extend recent success over Red Wings

By The Sports NetworkDec. 19, 2014 at 10:59 AM
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Even during some of their recent lean years the New York Islanders had a knack for beating the Detroit Red Wings.

The new and improved Islanders hope to continue the trend Friday when they visit the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

New York has only made the playoffs once in the previous seven seasons, but is currently sitting second in the Metropolitan Division with 42 points, the same number as Detroit, which is tied for second in the Atlantic.

The Red Wings, however, entered 2014-15 having made the postseason 23 straight times dating back to 1989-90. That consistency hasn't counted for much against the Islanders in the recent history between the clubs.

New York enters the first of three scheduled meetings with the Red Wings this season having won six of the last seven encounters in this series. That includes a 3-0 victory in Detroit when the clubs last met on Dec. 23 of last season, a triumph that pushed the Isles' road winning streak against the Red Wings to four games.

The last time Detroit recorded a home victory over the Islanders was in a 6-0 blowout on Nov. 28, 2003.

In addition to the series history, the Red Wings also will have to get over their own poor play of late when they take the ice on Friday. Detroit has lost four straight, and three of those losses came in the shootout. It's the Red Wings' first four-game losing streak since a six-game slide from Dec. 7-17 last year in which they went 0-4-2.

Detroit fell to 1-6 in shootout decisions this season after losing 1-0 in Columbus on Tuesday.

Sergei Bobrovsky and the Columbus Blue Jackets remained unbeaten in December with another tight win. Pavel Datsyuk scored in the tiebreaker for the Red Wings, but Jimmy Howard yielded goals to Ryan Johansen and Boone Jenner as Detroit lost in the final phase.

Datsyuk was the only player to beat Sergei Bobrovsky all night, fooling his fellow Russian with a backhand to open the shootout. Bobrovsky made 30 saves through regulation and overtime to earn the shutout victory, while Howard ended with 29 saves before allowing Johansen and Jenner to beat him in the shootout.

Howard also picked up his second shutout of the season, though it came in a losing effort. Detroit's No. 1 netminder saw his personal record in shootouts this season fall to 0-6.

"The thing I don't like about it is Howard stood on his head and leaves the rink feeling like he didn't win," said Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock.

Considering the Isles own a 6-0 record in shootouts this season, Detroit will certainly try to pick up two points tonight before it gets to the tiebreaker.

Despite his shootout woes, Howard will get the start tonight for the Wings. He is 1-2-1 with a 2.55 goals against average in four career games against the Isles.

New York has won two straight on the heels of three-game losing streak and the club's most recent triumph came in Monday's shootout win over the visiting New Jersey Devils. The Isles charged back from an early 2-0 deficit before eventually taking a 3-2 decision on Josh Bailey's tally in the fifth round of the tiebreaker.

Bailey was able to sneak a low shot between the pads of Keith Kinkaid, and Jacob Josefson missed the net on New Jersey's last chance.

"They're fun and you have to go out there and enjoy it," said Bailey about shootouts. "You can't be nervous when you go out there so you just have to embrace the moment and enjoy it."

Bailey and Matt Martin each had a goal, while Jaroslav Halak stopped 26 shots for the Islanders, who have won five of their last eight.

With New York also scheduled to play Saturday against visiting Tampa Bay, it's unclear if Halak will get the call or if backup Chad Johnson will make his 10th start of the season. Johnson has a win in his only career game against Detroit, while the veteran Halak is 4-4-1 with a 3.47 GAA in this matchup.

Johnny Boychuk could return to the blue line for New York tonight after sitting out the last nine games due to an upper-body injury. Boychuk is second among Isles defensemen this season with 14 points on two goals and 12 assists.

Detroit also could get winger Johan Franzen back tonight after he sat out Tuesday's game with an illness. Franzen has six goals and 13 assists in 25 games.

[SportsNetwork.com]

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