NEW YORK ISLANDERS (20-16-4) at
EDMONTON OILERS (18-21-4)
7:08 p.m. MST
Rogers Sportsnet West
630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Game Notes | Oilers/Islanders Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics
The Edmonton Oilers play their second game of a five-game homestand tonight against another New York based team – this time it’s the Islanders.
Edmonton currently sits seven points back of Colorado for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. However, on Saturday they won their second game in their last three with a 3-2 shootout victory over the New York Rangers.
The Islanders, like the Rangers, are right in the thick of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. Heading into this past weekend, the Isles had 43 points which placed them in eighth spot in the conference.
At the midway point of the season, there has not been much to decide between a majority of Eastern Conference teams. Just five points separates the Islanders from the first place New Jersey Devils but just four points separate New York from the 13th place Toronto Maple Leafs.
New York opened the season strong with a 9-4-0 record but that record slid to 15-15-2 by mid-December when the Islanders only won six times in a 16-game stretch. However, they have started to recover and heading into Saturday’s game in Colorado the Islanders had won five out of seven games.
Tonight’s game is the second of a five-game trip that takes New York through Colorado, Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa. The Isles fell to the Avalanche 2-1 in overtime to kick off the trip.
This is the first meeting between the Oilers and Islanders since December 10, 2005 when the Isles won 3-2 on a shootout winner from Trent Hunter.
Just The Facts...
LINEUP UPDATE (12:57 PM):
The Oilers won't be making any changes to their lineup tonight following the win against the Rangers Saturday. That means Mathieu Garon gets his fourth consecutive start in goal.
OILERS TO WATCH:
Oilers captain Ethan Moreau has been an inspiration to the team since returning from injury 10 days ago. Moreau had four points in four games on the team’s recent road trip. He helped boost Edmonton’s special teams, assisting on a shorthanded goal and scoring a power play marker… Geoff Sanderson has picked up seven of his nine points this season on home ice… Tom Gilbert
continues to impress in his first full season in the NHL. Gilbert leads the Oilers in plus/minus with a +3 rating and leads all team defencemen with seven goals and 14 points. Among rookie defencemen in the league, Gilbert is third... If Robert Nilsson comes back into the lineup tonight he will be facing his old team. Nilsson played 53 games for New York in his rookie NHL season of 2005-06 before being dealt to the Oilers last season.
ISLANDERS TO WATCH:
The New York Islanders lineup is dotted with former Edmonton Oilers – four to be precise – and some of the team’s key contributors used to wear the copper and blue, including each of the team’s top three scorers. Hilary Duff's favourite hockey player Mike Comrie is the Islanders’ leading scorer with 33 points (13g, 20a) in 39 games. Comrie is followed by Miroslav Satan with 23 points and team captain Bill Guerin with 22. Guerin leads the Islanders in goals this season with 14. Marc-Andre Bergeron is New York’s second highest scoring defenceman this season with six goals and eight assists for 14 points in only 24 games played… Bergeron has played his best hockey of the season lately with four goals and two assists for six points in his last six games.
Edmonton – Matt Greene (ankle) is out. Raffi Torres (knee) is out; New York – Jon Sim (knee) is out. Shawn Bates (hip) is out. Aaron Johnson (knee) is out. Radek Martinek (leg) is probable.
- Pre-game comments from Horcoff, Smid, Gagner, Penner, Garon & MacTavish. 700K
Souray & Hemsky back; Garon starting -
For the fourth consecutive game, Mathieu Garon gets the nod between the pipes tonight for the Edmonton Oilers as they look to win their third game in four tries. It will be the first time this season that Garon has played four straight games. ...more
Raffi Torres to undergo season-ending knee surgery -
Edmonton Oilers left winger Raffi Torres will undergo knee surgery and will be lost to the team for the remainder of the season. ...more
The Other Side
- Islanders Off-Day Raw - Tim Jackman and Ted Nolan look back at the tough loss to Colorado and preview the matchup against the Edmonton Oilers. ...more
- K.O. to start in Bridgeport - Top prospect Kyle Okposo could make his Sound Tigers home debut on Saturday at 7:00 pm vs. Springfield ...more
- Islanders Today - Catch the Islanders' optional morning skate on the off-day in Edmonton's Rexall Place. ...more
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- Getting to know your captain - Edmonton Oilers captain Ethan Moreau returned to action last week after a lengthy absence due to injury. Prior to him returning, we asked several of his long time teammates some questions to see how well they knew their captain. ...more
- Molson Half Price Tickets Starts Today - New for 2008, Molson is introducing an expanded game day ticket offer for Edmonton Oilers regular season home games. All available seats including bowl seating, standing room and singles go on sale at 9:00 a.m. on the day of the game. ...more
From the Wire
Despite being last in the Northwest Division, the Edmonton Oilers are on the brink of tying a league record in shootout wins. To do that Monday night, they will have to beat the New York Islanders for the first time this decade.
The Oilers (18-21-4), who are seven points behind fourth-place Colorado in the Northwest, are 11-2 in shootouts, one victory shy of the mark set by Dallas in 2005-06. But they have lost six straight to the Islanders (20-16-4) since a 4-2 victory Dec. 14, 1999, including a 3-2 shootout loss in the most recent meeting on Dec. 10, 2005.
Edmonton moved closer to the league record Saturday when Sam Gagner scored the lone shootout goal and Mathieu Garon saved three attempts to secure a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers in the opener of a five-game homestand. The Oilers, who are 2-5-2 in their last nine games, are 6-1 at home in shootouts.
"Right now we aren't in a situation to be picky about how we get wins," said Oilers center Shawn Horcoff, who snapped an eight-game goal drought with his team-leading 17th goal Saturday. "Beggars can't be choosers. We are certainly very comfortable in the shootouts though. When we go to them we don't feel it is a negative thing."
One of the keys for the Oilers has been the outstanding play of Garon, who made 21 saves Saturday and is a league-best 7-0 in shootouts, allowing only two goals on 23 attempts.
"I love the aggressiveness that he demonstrates in coming out and challenging the shooters," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said of Garon. "I don't know why more goalies don't employ that strategy. The shooters get a lot of the credit, but the way he has been playing all we need is one goal out of the three and usually that is enough."
Garon, who has never started against the Islanders, appears to be getting the nod as Edmonton's starter for the rest of the homestand after going 2-1-0 with a 2.86 goals-against average in the last three games. Dwayne Roloson has struggled for most of the season with a 7-12-3 mark and 3.12 GAA.
"It's a critical stretch here," MacTavish said. "It's not a reflection of the way Dwayne has played, it is a reflection that Matty has played.
"You want to give yourself the best chance. It is not a big difference between the two, but I really feel Matty is deserving of the opportunity."
The Islanders are hoping to win in regulation after losing consecutive games in overtime. Rick DiPietro allowed a goal with 2:55 remaining in the extra period Saturday as the Isles lost 2-1 at Colorado. That came after he was beaten 1:33 into OT in Thursday's 4-3 loss to Florida. He totaled 65 saves in the two defeats.
The Islanders have played in a league-high 24 one-goal games, posting a 14-6-4 record.
"One thing about Ricky is that we wouldn't be in the position we are in now without him," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. "He'll stop a majority of the shots, but we need to give him some more help."
DiPietro is 3-0-0 with a 1.95 GAA against the Oilers, including a 27-save performance on Dec. 10, 2005.
The Islanders last visited Edmonton for a 5-2 win on March 13, 2003.