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Capitals-Islanders Preview

AP - Sports

New York's loss to the Washington Capitals early this month began a dismal stretch that has caused plenty of frustration for the Islanders.

They'll look to snap a five-game losing streak Saturday night against Washington, which has lost three of four on the road.

New York (8-15-3) has dropped 10 of 12 since beating Boston on Nov. 2, and it has been outscored 22-9 during its losing streak after falling 5-0 to Detroit on Friday.

The Islanders have allowed at least four goals seven times in their slump, including a 6-2 loss to Washington on Nov. 5. Josh Bailey, who has no goals and two assists in his last 15, was a healthy scratch for the first time this season Friday.

''You keep your head up and you keep playing hard but this isn't good enough in any way,'' said captain John Tavares, who had a goal in the previous two games. ''As a team, all we can think about his playing a better game next time out.''

Coach Jack Capuano is hoping his team can learn from yet another defeat.

"We made decisions with the puck that weren't very good,'' Capuano said. ''You just can't do that against this team or any team.''

Washington (13-11-2) was mired in a four-game skid before rallying to beat Montreal 3-2 in a shootout Friday. Mikhail Grabovski tied it with 5:32 remaining in the third period then had the winner in the shootout.

Eric Fehr scored in the second, while he and Alex Ovechkin also scored in the tiebreaker. Fehr and Grabovski assisted on each other's goals.

Despite the win, the Capitals have scored two goals or fewer four times in their last five games.

Ovechkin, whose 20 goals are tied with St. Louis forward Alexander Steen for the NHL lead, scored twice and added an assist in the last meeting with the Islanders. That began an 11-game stretch in which he has 10 goals and three assists.

Tavares had a goal and an assist in that matchup, giving him eight goals and 10 points in his last eight games against Washington. Teammate Frans Nielsen has two goals and 10 assists during an eight-game point streak in the series.

Offensive production, though, won't matter much if the Islanders can't find some answers in net.

Kevin Poulin, who made 25 saves Friday, has started each game during the losing streak and posted a 4.58 goals-against average. With Evgeni Nabokov still nursing a groin injury, Anders Nilsson could make his first start. Nilsson's only appearance this season came Saturday when he allowed one goal on 13 shots after Poulin was pulled in the second period of a 5-2 loss at Philadelphia.

Braden Holtby made 35 saves Friday, and is likely to start again after backup Michal Neuvirth suffered a lower-body injury before the game. Holtby made 34 saves in the first meeting with the Islanders, and he's 3-0-1 with a 1.73 GAA in four career starts against them.

The Capitals and Islanders have split the last eight meetings.

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