Ducks-Islanders Preview

Goals have been hard to come by during the New York Islanders' worst stretch of the season.

The Anaheim Ducks can certainly relate.

The Islanders look to snap a frustrating three-game skid when they host the NHL's lowest-scoring team Monday night.

After climbing the Eastern Conference standings with a 7-0-1 stretch Nov. 28-Dec. 13, New York (18-11-5) has mustered just two Brock Nelson goals while losing three straight in regulation for the first time this season. The low point came Thursday in Arizona, where the Islanders fell 1-0 to a Coyotes team that had allowed 37 goals over its previous eight games.

''We've got to find a way to score goals,'' forward Ryan Strome said afterward. ''These guys had struggled defensively the past couple games and we couldn't crack them.''

A power play that's gone 1 for 16 over the last four games has compounded New York's offensive problems, as has John Tavares' prolonged slump. The center has one point in his past eight.

Tavares also won't have linemate Kyle Okposo, the team leader with 26 points, for a second straight game due to a lower-body injury.

The Ducks' scoring woes have lingered even longer, with their 58 goals by far the fewest in the NHL. They've managed 19 while going 4-9-1 on the road and two or fewer in eight of nine overall.

After being shut out for a seventh time in Thursday's 3-0 loss to Buffalo that began this four-game trip, Anaheim (12-14-5) generated enough offense to back Frederik Andersen's sharp effort in Saturday's 2-1 win over New Jersey.

Andersen made 21 saves in his first start since Nov. 21 and was supported by first-period scores from Chris Stewart and Ryan Kesler, the latter's fourth in 31 games.

''We really didn't give them anything except for that heck of a shot on their goal,'' Stewart said. ''We had our matchups. I thought we locked them down pretty tight for most of the game.''

The Ducks didn't do much offensively in a 4-1 home loss to the Islanders on Nov. 13, in which Frans Nielsen had two goals and Thomas Greiss 24 saves for New York.

Greiss has yielded three goals over his last three starts and had won four straight prior to Thursday's 2-1 defeat at Colorado. He's been sharing time lately with Jaroslav Halak, coming off a 28-save effort against Arizona.

Both netminders have been a vital part of a penalty kill that's thwarted 28 consecutive chances over a 12-game span. New York ranks third in the league in that category at 86.9 percent, just below the Ducks at 87.7.

Anaheim has gone 0 for 13 on the power play over its last six.

Both Andersen and John Gibson are expected to start during a back-to-back set against the Islanders and Rangers. Gibson owns a 1.97 goals-against average in nine appearances - eight starts - but has been shaky in his last two, surrendering three goals each time in losses to Carolina and the Sabres.

Andersen stopped 29 shots in a 3-2 home win over the Islanders on March 28, one of Anaheim's four victories in the series' past six matchups.

Ducks center Nate Thompson is eligible to play after serving a three-game suspension for an illegal check on the Hurricanes' Justin Faulk on Dec. 11.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.