NEW YORK — Two winless teams looking to ensure a slow start doesn't snowball into something more serious will meet Sunday night when the New York Islanders host the Anaheim Ducks in the home opener at Barclays Center.
Both teams fell to 0-2-0 with narrow road losses to Eastern Conference powerhouses Saturday, when the Islanders lost to the reigning Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals 2-1 and the Ducks dropped a 3-2 decision to the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Islanders, who are entering their second season at Barclays Center, are pointless through two games for the first time since 2006-07, which was the last time they opened 0-3-0. The Ducks are pointless after two games for the first time since 2010-11, which was also the most recent season in which they got off to an 0-3-0 start.
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“They're playing (Saturday), too, so no excuse for tired legs,” Islanders left winter Jason Chimera said.
Especially for the Islanders, who merely had to take a train into Manhattan for Thursday's 5-3 loss to the crosstown New York Rangers before trekking 230 miles down I-95 to face the Capitals.
“We've got to come back,” Chimera said. “We need to get in the win column, for sure.”
The Ducks, who are in the midst of a five-game road trip that is the franchise's longest season-opening trip since 1996-97, lost 4-2 at the Dallas Stars on Thursday before heading to Pittsburgh.
“It's a tough road trip to begin the season,” right winger Corey Perry, who scored one of the Ducks' goals, told the Orange County Register. “We need that first win to get us going and get the confidence up again.”
At least one streak will end Sunday: Neither the Islanders nor Ducks have led in their first two games.
“We can measure our game by the number of mistakes that we feel we made that are correctable,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle told the Orange County Register. “And our team's not playing to the level that's required right now from our group. Simple as that.”
Thomas Greiss started in net and took the hard-luck loss, stopping 26 of 28 shots. No. 1 goalie Jaroslav Halak is expected to start for New York on Sunday. Halak is 7-5-0 in 13 career games against the Ducks and won the last time he opposed Anaheim on Dec., 21, 2015, when he had 27 saves in a 3-2 win at Barclays Center.
For the Ducks, No. 1 goalie John Gibson is also likely to draw the start after backup Jonathan Bernier performed well (42 saves) in defeat Saturday.
Gibson made his only career appearance against the Islanders last Dec. 21 when he relieved Frederik Andersen after a three-goal first period and stopped 18 of 19 shots he faced the rest of the way.