After losing their season opener 6-4 at Buffalo on Wednesday, the Islanders are hoping their home ice is as hospitable as it’s been in the past.
“I’ve played many games in every building,” said Islanders captain Alexei Yashin. “In the big games, like at openers and in the playoffs, our fans are as loud as any teams’ fans. I would expect we’ll hear them Saturday.”
The Islanders had a record of 25-11-4-1 at home during the 2003-04 season, the best home mark in the Eastern Conference. The 25 wins and 55 points at home were also the most for New York since the 1985-86 season.
Carolina is coming off its first win of the season as rookie goaltender Cam Ward turned back superstar Mario Lemieux, sniper Ziggy Palffy and heralded rookie Sidney Crosby in his first-ever shootout to give the Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Friday night.
”(Cam) was unbelievable,” said Eric Staal, who scored his second goal of the season for the Hurricanes. “He’s a great competitor, and I’m sure he had a lot of fun in there stopping Lemieux, Crosby and Palffy.”
Ward finished with 28 saves, replacing injured goaltender Martin Gerber (hip). Last season was Ward’s first as a professional, and he set franchise records at Lowell of the AHL for victories (27), shutouts (6), save percentage (.937) and goals-against average (1.99).
“Usually, you’re just not around a goalie that’s 21,” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. “If they are available to you, they’re usually not that poised.”
Laviolette, who enters his second season with the Hurricanes, coached the Islanders from 2001-2003. He is 1-2 against his former team.