The New York Islanders haven't won since beating Detroit nearly two weeks ago. Surprisingly, another matchup with the surging Red Wings may be just what they need to get on track.
New York seeks a sixth straight victory over Detroit on Friday on Long Island.
John Tavares had a goal and an assist in the Islanders' 5-4 shootout win over the Red Wings on Nov. 16, part of a current nine-game stretch during which he has four goals and eight assists.
The captain, though, couldn't offer many positive words after New York (8-14-3) fell 3-2 to Winnipeg on Wednesday for its fourth straight loss and ninth in 11 games.
''We need everyone to have the same mindset, play hard every shift and do all the little extra things on the ice,'' said Tavares, who scored in the third period. ''When we don't do that as a team, we are pretty easy to play against. No question this is frustrating and we need to address it.''
The Islanders are 4-10-0 since trading Matt Moulson to Buffalo for Thomas Vanek on Oct. 27 despite Vanek recording two goals and two assists over the last three.
''We have character guys in our room, and I know if they keep working we will turn this around,'' coach Jack Capuano said. ''When you don't get results, it's tough mentally. You just have to find a way out of it.''
Detroit's loss to the Islanders was part of an 0-2-5 stretch from Nov. 4-19, but it has won three of four since after routing Boston 6-1 on Wednesday. The win came without Pavel Datsyuk, who missed his second straight game after being elbowed in the jaw in a loss to Ottawa on Saturday.
"If we play like this, we know we're going to win a lot of games," said Jonas Gustavsson, who made 16 saves. "I feel like last few weeks we've been going in the right direction. Hopefully we have some more gears. I think we have, because we have a young group."
Henrik Zetterberg ended a seven-game drought without a goal as six players scored for the Red Wings (12-7-7).
''We've played lots of good games this year (but) we haven't won lots of games," coach Mike Babcock said. "The puck's been going in (lately). I thought we built off what we've been building and it was a positive for the guys.''
Detroit set a season best for goals despite not having Datsyuk, who has scored a team-high 12 times, including twice in the first meeting with the Islanders.
It's unclear if he'll be able to return for the contest.
"(Wednesday) we were rewarded," Babcock said. "We had puck luck and got some energy and got going."
New York has outscored the perennial power Red Wings 27-13 during its six consecutive victories in the series.
Gustavsson made 37 saves while taking the loss Nov. 16, and Jimmy Howard could be back in goal for this matchup. Howard, though, has gone 0-3-4 with a 3.03 goals-against average in his last seven starts, giving up at least three goals five times in that stretch.
It's unclear who will start in net for the Islanders, who also play Saturday. Kevin Poulin made 26 saves against the Jets and earned the win over Detroit by stopping 19 shots in relief of Evgeni Nabokov, who suffered a groin injury and has since been on injured reserve.
Anders Nilsson has been serving as New York's backup, stopping 12 of 13 shots in relief of Poulin last Saturday at Philadelphia.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey