New York tries to post back-to-back victories for the first time since Nov. 16-19 on Saturday when it hosts a Pittsburgh team that is having trouble stopping opponents from scoring.
The Islanders (15-13-2) opened this season with 11 wins in their first 17 games, averaging 2.6 goals during that span. But since their last set of consecutive wins in mid-November, they’ve lost nine of 13, posting 1.8 goals per game.
New York is last in the league with 69 goals and hasn’t scored more than three in a game since a 4-0 win over Tampa Bay on Nov. 1.
The Islanders scored three goals for the third straight game Thursday, and it was enough to beat Phoenix 3-2 at home. The Coyotes are the second-lowest scoring team in the NHL with 70 goals.
Captain Bill Guerin scored a pair of rebound goals and his linemates combined for three assists to lead New York to its second win in three games following a season-high five-game losing streak.
“Nobody likes to play poorly,” said Guerin, who has three goals in the past three games after he went 13 without one. “I haven’t had the best first 30 games. Sometimes you get frustrated, but we have to keep pushing along and whatever gets you going gets you going.”
Before the game, Islanders coach Ted Nolan spoke to top-line forward Mike Comrie and made it clear the effort being given wasn’t good enough. Comrie responded by assisting on both of Guerin’s goals.
“Sometimes we have to realize that we’re in here together and we don’t want to let the next guy down,” Comrie said. “When you go through a funk, sometimes it’s hard because you never think you’re going to get out.”
Pittsburgh (15-14-2) is trying to get out of its own funk.
The Penguins won seven of eight from Nov. 22-Dec. 8, but have lost their last two games by a combined 12-3. Pittsburgh’s 92 goals allowed are among the most in the Eastern Conference, and it is without No. 1 goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for at least the next two months because of a badly sprained ankle.
Dany Sabourin has taken over as the starter for the Penguins, allowing eight goals on the last 50 shots he’s faced. Sabourin, who has made just 21 career starts, is 6-6-1 with a 2.54 goals-against average in 15 appearances this season.
Pittsburgh followed an 8-2 defeat in Philadelphia on Tuesday with a 4-1 home loss Thursday to Ottawa, which has the most points in the East.
The Penguins took a 1-0 lead in the second period on rookie center Tyler Kennedy’s fifth goal of the season, but Senators goalie Martin Gerber didn’t allow another score, even stopping Sidney Crosby on a breakaway.
“When you get that many opportunities, it would be nice to find a way to get one,” said Crosby, who hurt his left foot during the second period but returned.
These Atlantic Division rivals have split two meetings this season, with each team winning 3-2 on its home ice. Pittsburgh has lost its last four visits to Nassau Coliseum.