Islanders-Maple Leafs Preview

The Associated Press

Coach Randy Carlyle called the Toronto Maple Leafs' latest performance "unacceptable," and the fans certainly shared that sentiment.

Facing the red-hot John Tavares and the New York Islanders may not make things any better.

The Maple Leafs will try to rebound from one of their worst efforts of the season Tuesday night as they attempt to slow down Tavares and the visiting Islanders.

Toronto (21-17-5) was putting together a strong stretch, winning three straight games after taking the Winter Classic 3-2 over Detroit on New Year's Day.

Three days later it was being booed throughout a 7-1 home loss to the New York Rangers.

"My message was it was unacceptable to play and to feel that we were not embarrassed by what our performance was," Carlyle said. "And I stressed we."

Carlyle was also wary of a letdown coming out of the Winter Classic.

"As I stated right after that, we wanted to make sure we didn't come up with a flat performance; and we did," he said. "Now's the time to regroup, re-energize our group, reinforce some of the things that we know we can improve on and to get ourselves ready to face the New York Islanders."

The Maple Leafs beat New York 5-2 in Toronto on Nov. 19, starting the Islanders' 10-game losing streak, but New York has won five of its last seven games with Tavares leading the way.

The Toronto-area native has 13 points (seven goals) over his past six games, with a career high-tying five of those coming Monday as he notched a hat trick in a 7-3 win over Dallas.

"A lot of people dream of those nights," coach Jack Capuano said. "Any time (Tavares) has a night like that, it's nice to win the hockey game."

Tavares didn't get a point at Toronto in November, but he has five goals and seven assists in nine career visits.

The Islanders are also getting some strong production from Thomas Vanek, who has five goals and nine assists during a nine-game point streak.

The win over Dallas wasn't solely positive for New York. The team put Evgeni Nabokov on injured reserve after its top netminder left 13 minutes into the first period with a lower-body injury.

Nabokov, who was replaced by Kevin Poulin, missed 11 games earlier this season with a groin injury. The Islanders recalled Anders Nilsson from Bridgeport of the AHL after Monday's game.

While Poulin figures to get the call for New York, it's unclear if the Maple Leafs will have Jonathan Bernier or James Reimer in net.

Bernier gave up five goals on 32 shots before being pulled in the second period Saturday. He had a 1.80 goals-against average while going 3-0-2 in his previous five games.

Reimer stopped 16 of 18 shots after replacing Bernier. He hasn't started since surrendering three goals on 12 shots before being yanked after the opening period of a 5-4 shootout loss to Detroit on Dec. 21.

Reimer has a 4.53 GAA over his last three home meetings with the Islanders, while Bernier made 35 saves Nov. 19.

Toronto may be without David Clarkson (foot) and Carl Gunnarsson (upper-body), both of whom were hurt Saturday.

Gunnarsson's potential absence could lead to Tim Gleason's team debut after he was a healthy scratch against the Rangers. The veteran defenseman was acquired from Carolina last week in exchange for John-Michael Liles.

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