The New York Islanders are showing signs of life after an 11-game winless streak. They have won two of their last three heading into their road game against Detroit on Tuesday.
The Islanders ended the long drought with a 5-3 triumph in Ottawa on Tuesday. Following a one-goal loss to Nashville on Thursday, they defeated New Jersey 4-2 on Saturday.
The most recent victory had historical significance — it was their first at new UBS Arena.
“I’ll give the fans the credit for the win,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “They stuck with us through the whole game. They stuck with us through the last six or seven games. I was sitting in the office here and you could hear the thunder of the fans in the locker room, in the coaches’ room, that’s fantastic. … We’re going to dig ourselves out of this and try to make some noise.”
Mathew Barzal contributed a pair of assists against the Devils to extend his point streak to six games (one goal, eight assists). Barzal, however, was placed in the NHL COVID-19 protocol on Tuesday and has been ruled out against the Red Wings.
Oliver Wahlstrom also had two assists, giving him six points over his last three games.
“He’s playing a straight-line game and he’s using people,” Trotz said of Wahlstrom. “He’s got his head up, his awareness is getting better. Right now, we’ve got some people who are good players, who aren’t playing. This is the back pressure that you have when you have an almost healthy or healthy lineup. Wahlstrom will have to continue producing and playing well, as will some other guys.”
The Islanders have already visited Detroit this month. They lost a 4-3 overtime decision there on Dec. 4.
Rookie defenseman Moritz Seider scored Detroit’s game-winner that night. That’s the last time the Red Wings have tasted victory. They’ll carry a three-game losing streak into Tuesday’s contest and have given up an average of six goals per game during the slide.
In their last two games, they lost to St. Louis 6-2 and Colorado 7-3. The latter outing was Friday and coach Jeff Blashill felt his team needed a little time off.
“We’re going to get back to work and get better, especially in our D-zone coverage,” Blashill said. “We can’t give up the number of chances we gave up. … But we have to grow here. We’ve got to get back, take a breath and be ready for a big game on Tuesday.”
The losing streak was preceded by a five-game winning streak that came after a three-day layoff.
“You look at our most recent struggles, we had a couple of practice days, came out and won five in a row,” team captain Dylan Larkin said. “We need to get back to work at home and hopefully get some guys back and see what can happen.”
First-line wing Tyler Bertuzzi, who has missed the last five games due to COVID-19 protocols, is expected to play on Tuesday.
–Field Level Media