The New York Islanders aim to continue their winning ways on Thursday when they visit the Nashville Predators, a team that has given them fits over the last few seasons.
The Islanders improved to 9-2-0 in their last 11 games overall after opening a four-game road trip with a 4-2 victory against the Ottawa Senators on Monday.
Oliver Wahlstrom set the tone by opening the scoring with a power-play goal at 11:53 of the first period. Former Senators forward and Ottawa native Jean-Gabriel Pageau also converted on the power play, and Noah Dobson collected a goal and an assist for New York, which improved to 6-0-0 when scoring the first goal of the game.
“It’s nice to score the first goal, that’s for sure. We’ve had some comebacks, too,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said. “But (Monday), I thought we did a really good job with the lead, and it was, really, a character win. It was as much a character win, or more, as the comebacks. We fought through a lot of adversity.”
Mathew Barzal set up a pair of goals on Monday to give him a club-best 18 assists in 17 games this season. Barzal, who has yet to score a goal this season, shares the team lead in points with Brock Nelson (club-high nine goals).
Barzal recorded an assist in both games against the Predators in 2021-22. The Islanders fell short in both meetings and own a 0-5-2 record in the last seven encounters, including a 0-2-1 mark in Music City.
Nashville has won four of its last six games overall after opening its five-game homestand with a pair of 2-1 victories.
Matt Duchene collected a goal and an assist in the Predators’ win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
Duchene eclipsed the 700-point plateau with the secondary assist on Nino Niederreiter’s team-leading seventh goal of the season. Duchene became the second player from the 2009 NHL Draft to hit the mark, joining Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares.
The newly formed line of Duchene, Ryan Johansen and Niederreiter combined for five points (two goals, three assists) on Tuesday.
“I thought we were good,” Duchene said. “We’re a line that plays fast, hard on the forecheck. We’re three pretty heavy guys in the corner and on the forecheck, guys that can skate over pucks and physically dominate, so I think we did a good job of that.”
Juuse Saros has slammed the door over the last two games, stopping 66 of 68 shots.
“He’s the man,” Johansen said of Saros. “He’s got world-class talent. He never second-guesses his game. It’s all his work and leadership, his skill, that he brings every day. Sometimes pucks don’t bounce the way they normally do, but there’s never a doubt when he’s in the net.”
Saros sports a 5-1-0 record with one shutout, a 2.31 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in six career starts versus the Islanders.
New York’s Ilya Sorokin made 21 saves in his lone career start against Nashville, a 3-2 shootout loss on Oct. 30, 2021.