Islanders-Jets Preview

The Associated Press

The Winnipeg Jets will spend the vast majority of the next three weeks on home ice as they continue battling for a postseason berth.

One reason the New York Islanders still have playoff hopes is their recent strong play on the road.

Winnipeg looks to bounce back from a disheartening loss Tuesday night when it hosts New York, winner of five of six away from home.

The Jets (26-25-6) have played eight of their last nine games on the road, going 4-5-0 in that span. They tied their season high for goals allowed in an 8-5 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday after taking a two-goal lead within the first nine minutes.

Winnipeg failed to convert on its lone power-play chance and went 2 for 21 with the man advantage during that nine-game span.

''Quite frankly, I find it disrespectful, you know, the players being disrespectful to each other, the goaltender and everything,'' coach Claude Noel said. ''I thought it was poor. We didn't win battles; wherever you want to go.''

Winnipeg is seven points behind first-place Florida in the Southeast Division and four back of eighth-place Toronto in the Eastern Conference. However, it will play nine of its next 10 at home - including an eight-game homestand Feb. 17-March 5 - where it has allowed two or fewer goals in six of its last seven.

That may not bode well for the Islanders (23-24-8), who are the East's lowest scoring team and haven't exceeded two goals in their last four games. PA Parenteau assisted on Frans Nielsen's goal Sunday but New York fell 4-1 at home to the Panthers.

John Tavares went without a point and has one assist over his last six games.

''It wasn't a good first two periods but we have no excuses,'' Tavares said. ''We had some breakdowns.''

New York, though, has played well on the road of late, outscoring opponents 14-7 while going 5-1-0 in its last six there.

The Islanders - eight points back of Toronto in the East - won the first meeting in Winnipeg 3-2 in a shootout Dec. 20, getting goals from Parenteau and Michael Grabner.

Evgeni Nabokov made 19 saves and earned the win in relief of Al Montoya in that contest. He entered Sunday's game 7-2-0 with a 1.30 goals-against average in his previous nine starts, but was pulled in favor of Montoya after two periods.

Nabokov is 6-1-0 with two ties and a 1.97 GAA versus the Winnipeg franchise.

The Jets' Ondrej Pavelec allowed all eight goals Saturday to tie a career high, though his team didn't play very well in front of him.

''Obviously (when) you leave your goaltender like that out to dry it's embarrassing,'' defenseman Zach Bogosian said.

Pavelec made 34 saves in a 3-0 win over New York on Nov. 3 and stopped 31 shots in the most recent meeting.

Evander Kane and Johnny Oduya each had a goal and an assist in the November matchup.

New York's victory over the Jets in December gave the club its third straight win in Winnipeg, the first two of which came in 1994 and 1996. The now-Phoenix Coyotes relocated from Winnipeg for the 1996-97 season.

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