Islanders-Wild Preview

Losing all four games of a road trip may be reason enough for

the Minnesota Wild to be thrilled to return home.

Zach Parise’s injury status, however, may temper any


With Parise out again, the Wild will try to extend their home

winning streak to five games Sunday night against the New York

Islanders, who may again be without star center John Tavares.

Minnesota (20-15-5) has struggled greatly on the road,

surrendering 19 goals in losing four straight.

Those defensive issues were on full display Friday, when the

Wild gave up four first-period goals before falling 6-4 at


“We don’t have the luxury of finding reasons for things not

being OK,” coach Mike Yeo said while claiming the first period was

clearly a byproduct of the extended Christmas break. “We’re in a

position where we have to make things right.”

A four-game homestand could be just what Yeo and the Wild are

looking for.

Minnesota is 14-3-2 at Xcel Energy Center, winning all four

games there this month while outscoring opponents 12-6.

Parise, though, was integral to that success, scoring four goals

in three games. He’s tallied 12 of his 15 this season at home, but

the Wild won’t have him for at least one more game.

He’s missed the last two games and was placed on injured reserve

Saturday while Minnesota recalled goalie Johan Gustafsson from Iowa

of the AHL to take the roster spot.

Minnesota has lost all three games without Parise, so Mikko

Koivu’s production could be key.

The captain had a goal against the Jets for his only point of

the four-game trip, and he was a staggering minus-9 over that


A return home could provide a spark since Koivu – the team

leader with 28 points – has 12 over the past 10 games there. Of his

four goals in that span, two were game-winners.

He has two goals and one assist in three career meetings with

the Islanders in St. Paul.

Jason Pominville has 25 points in 27 games against New York, and

he enters this one with two goals and three assists in four


Minnesota has dropped three in a row in the series, including a

2-1 shootout defeat at home on Dec. 17, 2011.

The Islanders have dropped five of seven, and are hoping to have

Tavares back in the lineup after an undisclosed lower-body injury

forced him to miss Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to New Jersey.

The 23-year-old captain is considered day-to-day after his

consecutive games streak ended at 246.

Tavares also leads New York with 39 points.

“I’m concerned, obviously,” coach Jack Capuano said. “You know

what Johnny is to our hockey club. He’s not only a leader, but his

play speaks for itself.”

If Tavares can’t go, then the Islanders could use another strong

performance from Frans Nielsen, who is tied with the All-Star

center with a team-leading 13 goals.

Nielsen scored New York’s lone goal Saturday, giving him three

during a five-game point streak.