Maple Leafs-Islanders Preview

Neither the New York Islanders nor the Toronto Maple Leafs are

likely to make the playoffs, but the Eastern Conference’s two worst

teams are each hoping to develop some positive momentum down the

stretch.

The Maple Leafs will have a chance to extend what is already

their longest winning streak of the season Sunday on Long Island,

while New York hopes to notch back-to-back victories for the first

time in nearly two months.

The young Islanders (27-32-9) had slipped from contention with a

3-12-1 stretch that culminated in a four-game losing streak, but

they snapped that skid with a 4-2 win over New Jersey on Saturday

night. They will now try for their first consecutive wins since a

four-game winning streak from Jan. 9-18.

Taking advantage of a Devils team that was giving four-time

Vezina Trophy winner Martin Brodeur the night off, New York got one

point from 10 different players, including goals from defensemen

Freddy Meyer and Mark Streit.

New Jersey had a four-minute power play while trailing 3-2 in

the third period, but Sean Bergenheim scored short-handed – his

first goal in 18 games – to help the Islanders seal the win.

New York held the Devils without a power play goal in four

chances, breaking a string of six straight games where an

Islanders’ opponent had scored at least once with the man

advantage.

“It was a great job by our penalty kill all-around tonight,”

forward Blake Comeau said. “I thought it’s been better the last

couple games, and it’s something that we’ve got to continue to

have.”

The only NHL team with a penalty kill worse than the Islanders

is Toronto, which is also the only club behind New York in the East

standings.

But while the Maple Leafs (23-33-12) allowed NHL-worst Edmonton

to score twice on six power plays Saturday, Toronto used an

offensive outburst to beat the Oilers 6-4.

The victory gave the Leafs their first three-game winning streak

all season. They haven’t won four straight since Feb. 22-28,

2009.

“We’re fighting hard to get points,” forward Tyler Bozak said.

“We’re on a little roll here. I hope that we can keep that

going.”

Bozak had a goal and two assists and Phil Kessel added two goals

and an assist as Toronto’s young forwards sparked another offensive

outburst. After the Leafs had totaled five goals in their first

four games after the Olympic break, they’ve averaged 4.7 during

their brief winning streak.

Kessel has six points in that stretch, while Bozak and Nikolai

Kulemin each have five. All three are 23 or younger.

Toronto’s offense was quiet in a 3-1 road loss Dec. 23, dropping

the Leafs to 1-1-1 against the Islanders this season.

Dwayne Roloson made 26 saves in that game and is 3-1-0 with a

1.97 goals-against average in his last four starts against Toronto

– including a 58-save performance in a 4-3 overtime win at Toronto

on Nov. 23.

It’s unclear if Roloson will get another start over Martin Biron

24 hours after he stopped 38 shots to beat the Devils. Toronto’s

Jonas Gustavsson made 25 saves against Edmonton and could be

replaced by Jean-Sebastien Giguere.