Jets-Islanders Preview

The Associated Press

Ailed by a woeful penalty kill, the New York Islanders have been one of the NHL's worst teams of late.

They hope a three-day layoff between games and their favorable recent history against the Winnipeg Jets helps them turn things around Wednesday night on Long Island.

New York (8-13-3) is in the midst of a 2-8-0 slump that has seen the club slide from seventh to 14th in the Eastern Conference in a matter of three weeks. The Islanders' league-worst penalty kill (70.3 percent) has been especially bad during that span, surrendering 14 goals on 32 power plays. They've also converted just 4 of 39 power-play opportunities in the last 10 contests.

They were 0 for 3 on Saturday while giving up a power-play goal in a 5-2 loss at Philadelphia. Kevin Poulin was pulled in the second period in favor of Anders Nilsson after Poulin allowed three goals on 16 shots.

Coach Jack Capuano's club outshot the opponent for a fifth straight game, claiming a 38-30 advantage.

"As coaches, if we were looking at it and it was structurally or systematically, we would change it for sure," Capuano said. "When you talk about battle level or when you talk about protecting the wall and not protecting the danger area, that to me, you don't change that, that's hockey. There's nothing you can do about that.

''You have to win your battles."

With three consecutive days off between games for the first time this season, perhaps some substantial practice time can help the Islanders turn things around. They spent a good portion of Tuesday's session working on the penalty kill.

"The focus today was work," defenseman Matt Carkner told the team's official website. "We had a good, crisp practice and in between we were skating. Sometimes you just have to work yourself through these things. Today we put a good hard workday in… The guys in here are tired right now, but in the end it'll pay off for us."

New York is 5-0-1 in its last six meetings with Winnipeg, and a number of struggling Islanders have seen success against the Jets.

Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen have a combined three points over their last five games with a minus-8 rating. But Nielsen has six points in his last four games against the Jets and Okposo has five in his last four.

Leading scorer John Tavares has remained consistent during New York's 2-8-0 stretch, tallying 12 points. He has two goals and seven assists over his last six meetings with Winnipeg.

The Jets' abysmal road power play could also help the Islanders' cause, as they've scored only three times on 34 opportunities away from home this season.

However, Winnipeg (11-11-4) comes off a 3-1 win at New Jersey on Monday, which ended a four-game losing streak.

"Any win is good, but getting one to start a six-game road trip, we needed this one," Olli Jokinen said. "It was like a must-win for us to get back to .500 and feel good about ourselves moving forward."

Jokinen assisted on a second-period goal by Evander Kane, who ended an 11-game scoreless drought with his seventh of the season. Despite the slump, Kane is second among Winnipeg goal-scorers, trailing Bryan Little (12). Kane has just two goals in 15 career matchups with New York.

Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has nine points in his last six games after recording two assists Monday.

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