It’s becoming increasingly clear that the New York Islanders aren’t going away.
Tied for the highest point total in the Metropolitan Division, the Islanders got a long trip off to a strong start, and they’ll continue their seven-game road stretch against the streaking Calgary Flames on Friday night.
New York (25-11-1) has gone 6-1-1 since a three-game losing streak, putting it in a tie with Pittsburgh with 51 points – a season after finishing at the bottom of the division. The Islanders won their second straight Wednesday, 5-2 over Winnipeg in the opener of the trek that will keep them away from Nassau Coliseum until Jan. 16.
Frans Nielsen had two goals and an assist and linemate Ryan Strome had four points for New York, which has scored nine goals in winning two straight. The Islanders went 2 for 7 on the power play in both games.
"The (past) couple of games, (the line) has been good for us," coach Jack Capuano told the team’s official website about the unit that also includes Anders Lee. "You have to get secondary scoring, obviously. For me tonight, that line was good. When we play on the road, (opponents are) going to get the matchups that they want against (the John) Tavares line. You’re going to need other guys to step up."
Nielsen, Strome and Lee totaled four points in Monday’s 4-3 overtime win over Washington.
Jaroslav Halak has also keyed New York’s hot stretch, winning six consecutive starts while posting a 1.79 goals-against average.
The Islanders, whose 3.0 non-shootout goals per game is among the best marks in the NHL, continue their trip through western Canada before heading back east for three more road games – two against area rivals New Jersey and the Rangers.
New York has gone 2-0-1 in its last three away from home and has 11 wins on the road – tied for the most in the Eastern Conference.
"We play a loose, confident game on the road, not that we (don’t) at home," Lee said. "It’s just you. You’re against the crowd and against the home team. You just kind of grind it out together and play a simple game."
The Islanders sent the Jets to their first back-to-back losses since late November, and they’ll try to cool off another hot team in the Flames (21-15-3). Calgary has bounced back exceptionally well from an eight-game losing streak, winning four in a row.
Josh Jooris scored in overtime for a 4-3 victory over Edmonton on Wednesday, Calgary’s league-leading eighth win when trailing after two periods. The Flames have a plus-23 goal differential in the third period, also best in the NHL, and their 48 third-period goals match Tampa Bay for the most in the NHL.
"The fact that we battled back again shows the resiliency of this squad," Jooris told the team’s website. "We never had a doubt in our mind tonight. Intermission everyone was upbeat, positive. I think that helped us in the third."
Joe Colborne scored twice to give him three goals in the last three games after having none through his first 18.
Calgary, 3-0-0 on a six-game homestand, has taken the last two meetings with New York, winning 4-3 in the most recent one March 7 at the Saddledome behind two goals from Colborne. The Flames outscored the Islanders 3-0 in the third period.