Islanders-Red Wings Preview


While the New York Islanders' struggles have continued, the Detroit Red Wings are hoping they've finally gotten on track despite a plethora of injuries to key players.

Detroit seeks a third straight victory by sending the visiting Islanders to a 15th defeat in 17 games Monday night.

The Red Wings (17-12-9) went 0-4-2 - including losing the first five after Pavel Datsyuk returned from a concussion that sidelined him for seven games - before beating Calgary 3-2 in overtime Thursday and Toronto 5-4 in a shootout Saturday.

They played without six players against the Maple Leafs, including captain Henrik Zetterberg and No. 1 goaltender Jimmy Howard. Zetterberg has missed the last 10 games with a herniated disc, while Howard has been out the past six with a sprained left MCL.

Daniel Alfredsson has picked up the slack, finishing with two goals - the last in overtime - and an assist against the Flames before adding an assist and the shootout winner Saturday.

''It was a mental block for us,'' Alfredsson said. ''To win this one, hopefully we can put that behind us and start winning a few. Winning in overtime last game and now winning in a shootout lessens the grip on the stick next time around.''

Coach Mike Babcock was proud of his team's effort during its rough stretch, and he's confident it will be even better when healthy.

''I think we're a pretty even-keeled group,'' Babcock said. ''We just keep on keeping on. We're going to be fine here in the end. We've got to get players back, and then we'll start playing with some speed and confidence and tempo and everything.''

Captain John Tavares was hoping the Islanders would be able to build on a rare victory after beating the Rangers 5-3 on Friday, but they collapsed in the third period of a 5-3 loss to Anaheim on Saturday.

The Islanders (10-20-7) are 2-10-4 in their last 16.

"We have to do a better job in a lot of areas, especially in our defensive zone and our coverage," Tavares said. "You thought this week, we'd be able to build (on Friday's win), and obviously (Saturday's loss was) disappointing."

Thomas Vanek scored twice and Frans Nielsen added a goal to stake New York to two-goal lead entering the third period, but the Ducks responded with four in the final 20 minutes.

"We were frustrated at the no calls and the icings," Vanek said. "But we tend to focus on that instead of the task at hand."

One defeat during New York's slump was a 5-0 loss to Detroit on Nov. 29. Alfredsson had two goals and an assist and Darren Helm, currently on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, also scored twice.

Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves Saturday. He's 1-1-2 with a 2.44 goals-against average since returning from a groin injury that sidelined him for 11 games.

Nabokov suffered that injury when he allowed a goal to Helm 4:12 into the first period of a 5-4 shootout loss to Detroit on Nov. 16. He went 6-1-0 with a 2.76 GAA in his previous seven starts against the Red Wings, including postseason.

Jonas Gustavsson made 37 saves for Detroit in the first meeting, and he could be back in net for this one. He's 2-2-1 with a 3.12 GAA in five starts since Howard's injury.