New York (18-18-8) at Dallas (18-14-11)

Light Sleet Currently: Dallas, TX
Temp: 32° F
  • Game info: 8:30 pm EST Fri Jan 8, 2010
  • TV: MSG+, FSSW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The New York Islanders are putting together one of their best stretches of the season. Now that Kyle Okposo(notes) has found the net again, it could get even better.

Okposo and the Islanders will aim for their sixth win in eight games Friday night when they pay a rare visit to the struggling Dallas Stars.

New York (18-18-8) has won five of seven (5-1-1) and is in position to win three in a row for the first time since a season-high four-game run Oct. 28-Nov. 2. The Islanders are also 3-0-1 in their last four road games, with each decided by one goal.

They defeated Colorado 3-2 on Wednesday to open a three-game trip. Okposo netted the game-winner with 3:17 to play, scoring his seventh goal of the season, but just his second in his last 24 games.

“It’s been awhile,” Okposo said. “I’ve had some tough luck finding the net. That made this one so much better.”

Despite his slump, Okposo is tied with left wing Matt Moulson(notes) and rookie center John Tavares(notes) for the team lead with 28 points.

“Anybody that’s been around the Islanders will tell you that Kyle Okposo has had some great opportunities and been unable to score.” coach Scott Gordon said of his second-year winger. “There isn’t a guy that’s more deserving than he was, to be able to get that opportunity and have it be a game-winner.”

Gordon will likely opt to keep Dwayne Roloson(notes) in net, while Rick DiPietro(notes) acts as his backup.

Roloson is 5-0-1 with a 2.06 goals-against average in his last six games, but is 1-4-0 with a tie and a 3.55 GAA in seven career starts at Dallas (18-14-11).

DiPietro backed up Roloson against the Avalanche as he dressed for the first time since Jan. 2, 2009. The goaltender has been sidelined by a knee injury that limited him to five games last season.

New York has dropped its last two meetings with the Stars, both of which were on Long Island including a 5-3 defeat Oct. 23, 2008. The teams haven’t met in Dallas since the Islanders won 3-0 on Nov. 15, 2006.

The Stars are mired in their third three-game losing streak of the season, and this is the first time they’ve lost three straight in regulation. They fell 5-2 at the New York Rangers on Wednesday, but the biggest blow came when center Mike Ribeiro(notes) was accidentally hit in the throat by the stick of the Rangers’ Christopher Higgins(notes) in the second period.

Ribeiro, who has 10 goals and 23 assists in 43 games, was placed on injured reserve Thursday and is expected to miss four to six weeks after undergoing a tracheotomy as part of a procedure to repair a throat contusion.

“First of all, we’re really concerned about Mike, because that’s a scary injury, when you fracture cartilage in your throat,” coach Marc Crawford told the Stars’ official Web site. “That’s scary. He had to have been scared.

“I know Mike is feeling pretty bad right now, but hopefully he’ll recover fully. They are telling us that he should recover fully but it’s just going to take some time.”

With Ribeiro out, the Stars will need production from James Neal(notes), the team leader with 18 goals. The left wing hasn’t scored in six games.

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Friday, Jan 8