After being blanked for the first time this season, the New York Islanders voiced their concerns about struggling to score goals.
Preventing them may be their biggest problem at this point, though.
New York looks to avoid a third straight defeat Saturday night against a San Jose Sharks team that’s playing a rare home game.
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The Islanders (6-4-0) have dropped four of six, going 0 for 6 on the power play in Thursday’s 5-0 loss to Colorado that began a five-game road trip.
Other than a seven-goal outburst in a victory over Dallas last Saturday, New York has totaled nine goals in its past five games. It couldn’t break through against the Avalanche despite holding a 40-23 shot advantage, including 14-4 in the third period.
"In this league, every night, got to score two to three to win," coach Jack Capuano said. "If you don’t, you’re not going to win hockey games.”
John Tavares hit the crossbar at the end of the first period, one of many chances the Islanders failed to convert.
”Got to find a way to get a little bit more gritty,” Tavares said. ”Find a way to get an ugly one, get a bounce to go your way. It’s obviously a frustrating loss.”
Offense has been a problem for the Islanders, but their breakdowns at the other end of the ice seem to be causing even bigger issues. New York has allowed at least three goals in nine of its 10 contests and at least four in four of its last five.
The 36 non-shootout goals it has given up rank among the most in the league. Jaroslav Halak, who signed a four-year, $18 million contract in the offseason, is 3-3-0 with a 3.50 goals-against average, while backup Chad Johnson has a 3.75 GAA in four starts after taking the loss Thursday.
Halak is likely to be in net for this contest. He made 20 saves as the Islanders registered a season-high 45 shots in a 4-3 shootout win over the Sharks on Oct. 16.
San Jose is 5-0-2 in its last seven meetings with New York, and it returns home after completing a 2-0-1 road trip with a 4-3 shootout loss to Minnesota on Thursday.
The Sharks (6-4-2) had lost four straight prior to the trip. They held a two-goal edge in the third period, but Antti Niemi couldn’t hold the lead despite making a career high-tying 43 saves.
”We showed signs of fatigue a little bit,” coach Todd McLellan said. ”Then when the fatigue stepped in, we were not mentally clear on some of the decisions we made and we fed them.”
San Jose plays 16 of its first 21 on the road, but has managed to hold its own so far despite the travel. After this contest, the Sharks get four days off before hosting Vancouver, then embark on seven-game trip through the Midwest and East Coast.
"We’ll take the points any way we can get them," McLellan said.
Backup Alex Stalock made 42 saves in the first meeting with the Islanders, but Niemi could be back in net for this matchup. Niemi, who posted a 1.89 GAA while starting each game of the recent road swing, is 1-0-1 with a 3.25 GAA in his career against New York.