Building momentum behind John Tavares and an improving power play, the New York Islanders are trying to remain perfect on their longest road trip of the season.
Tavares looks to continue his surge and help the Islanders extend their success against the struggling Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
New York is 6-1-1 in its last eight games, averaging 3.6 goals while going 8 for 26 on the power play. The Islanders (32-19-7) were 9 for 66 on the man advantage over the previous 20.
Tavares is a catalyst to that progress, getting five of his 12 points over the last eight games on the power play. The captain has 20 points in the past 16, recording at least one 13 times.
Tavares' goal and assist both came on power plays in Tuesday's 4-1 win at Minnesota after the Islanders opened this seven-game trip with a 1-0 victory over New Jersey on Friday.
"We're shooting more pucks and we're hungrier on the rebounds," said center Frans Nielsen, who had two goals against the Wild. "We have a simpler power play right now."
The schedule is also giving New York a chance to build steam. None of the games on this trip are on back-to-back days, and the first six opponents are currently out of playoff position. The Islanders conclude the trek against the New York Rangers on March 6.
They're 8-3-0 in the last 11 meetings with the Flames (26-30-3), winning three straight after Nielsen scored twice in a 4-0 home victory Oct. 26.
Tavares didn't factor in the scoring after getting nine points over his previous five matchups.
Jaroslav Halak has dominated the Flames, shutting them out twice and yielding two goals on 112 shots while winning four straight meetings. He stopped 29 shots earlier this season and has won the first two games of this trip by saving 57 of 58 attempts.
"He was focused and determined," coach Jack Capuano told the team's official website Tuesday. "Overall I liked Jaro's game, but our defense especially."
Calgary has allowed 4.0 goals per game while dropping five of six following Tuesday's 2-1 loss at Los Angeles.
Joni Ortio, though, made a case for more playing time as he stopped 35 shots in his first start since losing 6-2 to Montreal on Oct. 30. Ortio was recalled from Stockton of the AHL earlier this month after Karri Ramo was lost for the season with a knee injury.
Jonas Hiller has failed to distinguish himself as Ramo's replacement, going 1-3-0 with a 4.38 goals-against average over his last five appearances.
"We really liked his game, and we're going to talk about it as a staff like we always do and we'll come up with our decision for Thursday night against the Islanders," coach Bob Hartley said of Ortio on the team's official website.
Ortio had 31 saves against the Islanders in October and has split two meetings behind a 3.50 GAA. Hiller has a 2.02 GAA while winning two of his last three against New York.
Johnny Gaudreau has one goal in three games against the Islanders, but he's got seven points during a five-game streak after assisting on Sean Monahan's goal Tuesday.