Islanders Look to Extend Winning Streak Against the Bolts
After winning two straight games, the New York Islanders will go into Saturday night’s matchup looking to extend their winning streak and take the season series from the Lightning. The previous matchup between these two teams at the Nassau Coliseum saw the Tampa Bay Lightning take a 4-1 contest, but New York has won the only two meetings in Tampa Bay. The Islanders played a strong game against the Maple Leafs on Tuesday and gutted out a victory against the Canadiens last Saturday, so the Isles will definitely come into the game with some confidence. (Robert Kowal/Flickr)
The two wins were absolutely important for the young Islanders as they look to finish the season on a strong note. Much like Toronto and Montreal, Tampa Bay is at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and out of the running for a playoff spot. A win against the Lightning could help the Islanders climb out of the Eastern Conference cellar, but they'll have to do it against one-time Islander and fan favorite, Dwayne Roloson. In all likelihood, Evgeni Nabokov will oppose Roloson as the veteran netminder and the Islanders agreed on a 1 year contract extension on Wednesday.
Nabokov has played himself into the starting job for the Islanders and has endeared himself to some fans that have watched Nabby give every contest a solid effort on his behalf. The Russian goalie has also stated that he wants to help bring the Islanders back to the playoffs and the contract extension offers the Isles a very reliable option for the 2012-2013 NHL season. Nabokov has stolen quite a few games for the Islanders this season with stellar play, but the team must make sure they keep up the hard work that has gotten them these two recent victories.
Secondary scoring has been a problem for the Isles this season, but the past two games have seen a reversal of fortune for New York. Frans Nielsen and Mark Streit got the goals for the Islanders against the Canadiens, while Josh Bailey and David Ullstrom scored the Isles' first two goals before Matt Moulson and P.A Parenteau sealed the deal against the Maple Leafs. Such offensive help from the second line and even the team's defensemen is one of the key's to success for the Islanders. If New York's defensemen and second and third line units can help shoulder some of the offensive load, then Parenteau, Moulson, and Tavares' job becomes that much easier.
If the Islanders can just stick to what they've been doing in the past couple of games, then they should be able to put forth a solid effort against the Bolts. The Islanders have had a good amount of rest as they haven't played since Tuesday night. Prior to Thursday night, the Lightning were on a three game losing streak, but a great outing from Dwayne Roloson helped Tampa Bay earn two points against the Oilers and snap out of their skid. Even though the Bolts have had their goaltending issues and inconsistencies this season, the Islanders cannot afford to dismiss their opponent as they will be pitted against a goalie that knows the Islanders organization and its players.
The Islanders have started their road trip on a good note and left Canada being unbeaten. Extending their winning ways on the road would be a great boost to the team after a hard 5 game losing streak that saw New York drop three straight heartbreakers to the Devils, Rangers, and Capitals. As long as the Isles keep up their hard work ethic they should be able to end the 2011-2012 on a positive note and use this season as a building block to a promising future.
Dwayne Roloson has a career record of 4-4-1, with a 2.94 GAA, and a .900 Save Percentage against his former team. Al Montoya has started all three games against the Lightning this season so far and has compiled a 2-1-0 record with a .932 Save Percentage and a 2.00 GAA against the Bolts.