Islanders, Flames back on track ahead of encounter

After a slight delay, the New York Islanders are enjoying the new-coach bounce and are looking for more when they play host to the Calgary Flames on Saturday afternoon in Elmont, N.Y.

With Thursday’s 6-2 thumping of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Islanders are riding a two-game winning streak and are on a 3-2-1 run since Patrick Roy took over coaching duties from the fired Lane Lambert.

“We have so much depth. We have four very good centermen, four good lines, three pairs of six good defensemen and good goaltending. That’s depth,” Roy said. “We’re starting to look like a team that works together, and that makes me happy.”

New York has held the opposition to two goals in all three victories since the coaching change, and the performance against the Lightning was the best of them all. Tampa Bay was held to 20 shots on goal.

“They are a high offensive team and they’ve got a lot of scoring power up front,” said Islanders center Casey Cizikas, who scored in his return Thursday after missing 10 games due to injury.

“We did a good job of containing that and limiting their chances. I thought our defenseman did a good job of closing gaps and shutting them down.”

New York heads into Saturday’s action two points behind the Detroit Red Wings for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card position. The Islanders are aware a winning streak is necessary.

“We know where we are in the standings,” said Islanders forward Mathew Barzal, who has three goals and three assists during a four-game point streak. “We have to get some wins together to get into the playoffs.”

The Flames arrive at New York in a similar position as their hosts. Calgary sits one point behind the St. Louis Blues for the Western Conference’s second wild-card position, having closed the gap thanks to a three-game winning streak.

The Flames are coming off a 5-3 road victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday after they opened a four-game trip by defeating the Boston Bruins on the road 4-1.

“I think we just kind of took the mentality from last game and tried to move forward with that,” said rookie Flames forward Connor Zary, who has three goals and one assist in the last four games. “I think the first (period against New Jersey) was a little back and forth, but we found our game and were able to stick to that for most of it.

“That’s what we’ve got to keep doing here moving forward, we’ve done it two games here from the break.”

It would be easy to overlook, after a pair of victories when the Flames scored nine total goals, but goaltender Jacob Markstrom continues to shine. Markstrom kept the Devils from building on their first goal, and then shut the door while facing 17 third-period shots.

“This is the best, since I’ve been around him or since he’s been with us that I’ve seen him play,” Calgary coach Ryan Huska said. “He’s been giving us a chance to win every night, that’s why you have a goaltender of that caliber.”

The Flames could be forced to rely upon Markstrom even more than expected. On Friday, the club placed No. 2 goaltender Dan Vladar on the injured list with a lower-body injury and summoned Dustin Wolf from the Calgary Wranglers of the AHL.

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