Canucks, Islanders face off in battle of skidding teams
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NEW YORK -- Somebody has to win Monday night, when the New York Islanders host the Vancouver Canucks in a battle of skidding teams at Barclays Center.
The Islanders (4-6-2) lost their third straight game Saturday night, when they blew an early two-goal lead and fell to the Edmonton Oilers, 4-3, in the shootout. The Canucks (4-7-1) extended the longest losing streak in the league Saturday night, when they dropped their eighth in a row in absorbing a 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
New York and Vancouver are two of just six teams with 10 points or fewer as well as two of four teams with a losing streak as long as three games. The Detroit Red Wings have dropped five straight while the San Jose Sharks have lost three in a row.
The Islanders can at least take a little solace in the narrow nature of their losses. New York has led or been tied in the third period in six of the eight defeats, including the last two.
"We played a little resilient and we played hard and credit to the guys," Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said Saturday night. "But that's the way we're going to have to play. I think our guys know if we continue to play like that and work like that and just stay the course, good things will happen."
The Islanders' task got tougher Sunday, when the team learned its top defenseman, Travis Hamonic, will be out four-to-six weeks with a broken right thumb suffered when he blocked a shot in the first period Saturday night.
The Canucks, on the other hand, have been outscored by a whopping 28-10 during their losing streak, a stretch in which they have been shut out four times and lost by multiple goals six times.
"The only people that can change this slump right now is us," Canucks defenseman Troy Stecher said Saturday night. "And we're going to find a way to do that."
The Canucks are likely to be doubly motivated Monday following a fight-filled loss to the Maple Leafs. The fracases -- including a battle between goalie Ryan Miller and Toronto left winger Matt Martin -- took place after left winger Daniel Sedin was hit in the head by Nazem Kadri. Sedin was checked for a concussion but passed the tests.
"I like the fact that our guys stayed together," Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins said, "I think it's important that the group cares about each other."
Miller and Jacob Markstrom have alternated starts in each of the last five games, which puts Markstrom in line to play Monday night. Markstrom is 1-3-0 in four career appearances against the Islanders and took the loss the last time he opposed New York on March 1, when he made 21 saves as the Canucks fell, 3-2, at Rogers Arena.
Jaroslav Halak has started the last two games for the Islanders, so Thomas Greiss could draw the start. Greiss is 1-2-0 in three career appearances against the Canucks and earned the win on March 1, when he stopped 31 of 33 shots.
Updated November 7, 2016