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Thu, Nov 3, 2011 - 7:00 PM ET
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The New York Islanders are remaining optimistic despite a losing streak which has wiped out their strong start.

New York looks to avoid a sixth straight loss Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets, who continue their longest road trip of the season.

After a 3-1-0 start, the Islanders have gone 0-3-2 to fall back into the Atlantic Division basement - where they've finished each of the past four seasons. They're hoping to avoid a stretch similar to how last season began, when they opened 4-1-2 before going on a 14-game losing streak.

New York (3-4-2) has been off since a 3-2 overtime defeat to San Jose on Saturday, losing on a power-play goal after the referees called an erroneous delay of game penalty on Travis Hamonic. Replays showed the puck hitting the glass before going out of play.

John Tavares, who scored his team-leading seventh goal, was pleased with how the Islanders responded against the Sharks and said the team could benefit from this four-day break between games.

"Our game has come a long way," he said. "If we continue to play like that ... we're going to win a lot more hockey games than we lose.

"We need a win and we need to get back on track, but we've got to stay positive. It's early in the year, and if we keep playing that way I like our chances."

Michael Grabner scored his third goal, and Rick DiPietro made 27 saves in his first start of the season.

"We're getting better every game," Grabner said.

New York, though, has lost four of the last five meetings with the Jets - formerly the Atlanta Thrashers - and dropped both matchups last season at Nassau Coliseum.

DiPietro has a 3.48 goals-against average in his last six appearances in the series, though he may start again if No. 1 goaltender Evgeni Nabokov remains out with a lower-body injury.

The Jets (4-6-1) have alternated wins and losses over their last five games, beating Florida 4-3 in a shootout on Monday. They're 2-1-0 on a seven-game trip which ends Tuesday in Buffalo.

Thursday begins a stretch of four games in six days.

Captain Andrew Ladd has gotten off to a slow start, notching his first assist and fourth point in 11 games on Kyle Wellwood's first-period goal Monday.

Wellwood also scored the winner in the shootout and added an assist, giving him five points in his last five games. He has shined on the top line with Ladd and Bryan Little.

"Kyle Wellwood has been a good player for us," coach Claude Noel said. "To unclog a line, we kind of moved him into that situation and he's a guy that a lot of players want to play with.

"He's a smart player and it seems that wherever we've put him, he's helped that line do well so that's a good attribute to have."

Wellwood has four goals and eight assists in 10 career games versus the Islanders.

Evander Kane has not had similar success, going pointless in eight career matchups with New York. However, he has six points in his last five games overall after scoring twice Monday.

Tagged: Islanders, Sharks, Jets, Kyle Wellwood

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