The first stop of a California trip helped the New York Islanders find some much-needed scoring and a timely win. The next location hasn't produced much of either for them in the last decade.
The Islanders hope their newfound offense will help silence their demons against the Los Angeles Kings when they visit Staples Center on Thursday night.
New York (8-5-3) picked up just its second win in seven games Tuesday when it opened a three-game trip with a 4-2 victory at San Jose. The Islanders scored one fewer goal than their previous four games combined and tallied more than two for the first time since Oct. 26.
Some offense might help New York figure out Los Angeles, which is the second stop of a trip that ends in Anaheim on Friday.
The Kings own a 9-1-2 record in this series since the start of the 2006-07 season, including a 4-0-1 mark at home. The Islanders' lone win at Staples Center in the last 10 years was a 2-1 shootout victory on Nov. 6, 2014, but they still own a 14-4 disadvantage in goals there during that time.
New York's struggling offense came alive against the Sharks, scoring twice in the opening 3 minutes, 30 seconds. John Tavares started the scoring 36 seconds in and sealed it on a late empty-netter.
Tavares, who had been held without a point in his four prior games, has no goals and four assists in nine career games against Los Angeles.
“We obviously haven't had as many wins lately and haven't been scoring as many goals as we'd like, so it's a big start, a big win,” Tavares told the team's official website. “It's only going to get tougher, but it was a good way to start it off.”
Backup Thomas Greiss made 34 saves to improve to 4-1-2, and he might draw a second straight start given starter Jaroslav Halak's struggles against the Kings.
Halak is 1-7-2 with a 3.05 goals-against average in his last 10 starts against Los Angeles, including 0-3-1 with a 3.71 GAA on the road. Greiss is 0-3-0 with a 3.32 mark at Los Angeles.
While the Islanders will try to win two straight for the first time in more than two weeks, the Kings (9-6-0) look to avoid their first losing streak since dropping their first three games of the season.
Los Angeles followed its rough start with seven consecutive wins, but has scuffled again with three losses in five games. The latest was a 3-2 defeat against Arizona on Tuesday that dropped the Kings to 1-2-0 on their five-game homestand.
A positive was Dustin Brown finally ending a 14-game goal drought to start the season, but the Kings weren't happy with their defense. Los Angeles has surrendered 10 goals in its last three losses compared to just one in two wins.
''It goes a long way for our offensive game when we play less time in the D-zone,” Brown said. “When we are playing our game, we are moving the puck quickly, coming out of our zone clean and stopping plays before they begin.''
Jonathan Quick is 5-1-2 with a 1.59 GAA lifetime against the Islanders, going 2-0-1 with a 0.65 mark at home.