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Venue: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Time: 4:00 PM EST
Television: Detroit-FSD; New York-MSG Plus
The Detroit Red Wings (12-7-7, 31 points, 3rd place Atlantic Division) have suddenly found a recipe for success in their past two games after a skid that lasted nearly the entire month of November. They will look for their third straight win and fourth in their past five games when they head to New York to take on the New York Islanders (8-14-3, 19 points, 8th place Metropolitan Division).
The Red Wings have been lacking a consistent offensive showing the past month which puzzled many due to the amount of talent they posses on their team. After a 6-1 route of the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night, the question now is, can they sustain that type of offense? Obviously they won’t score six goals a game, but they showed what they are capable of offensively when they are clicking on all cylinders. They were able to get six goals past an elite goaltender in Tukka Rask and against a team that gives up the fewest goals per game. They had balanced scoring from all lines which has been missing all season long. Up to this point, the Red Wings have had to rely on Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg for most of their offensive contributions. The Red Wings also received strong goaltending, another thing that has been lacking this season, from Jonas Gustavsson against a team that was top ten in the league in goals scored per game. Jimmy Howard still remains the number one goaltender in Detroit, but Gustavsson has shown that he can step up and fill in nicely when needed.
New York comes into this game on a four game losing streak and having lost eight of their past ten overall. The Islanders have not won a game since they defeated the Red Wings 5-4 back on November 16th. Goaltending has been an issue for the Islanders during their four game skid. They have given up 17 goals in that four game span for an average of 4.25 goals against per game to go with only scoring 2.25 goals per game. The Red Wings will be coming in with a chip on their shoulder after the defeat the Islanders handed them nearly two weeks ago so anything less that consistent play is going to result in the Islanders dropping their fifth straight game.
The Red Wings will be without Pavel Datsyuk once again as he continues to recover from a head injury sustained against Ottawa last week. Ken Holland has said that he does not expect Datsyuk to play any time before December 4th.
Jimmy Howard will be returning to net for the Red Wings tonight after sitting the past two games. Hopefully playing against a team struggling to score goals and a couple days off to clear his head will give him the strong start he desperately needs. Howard was in net for all five goals the Islanders scored in the November 16th meeting and earned the loss in that game.
The Islanders are expected to counter with Kevin Poulin in net while Evgeni Nabokov continues to nurse a groin injury he sustained in the game against the Red Wings. Poulin comes into tonight’s play with a 3-9-0 record with a 3.09 GAA and a .892 save percentage so the Red Wings have a good chance of another offensive outburst.