(ANOTHER) BIG GAME

Wednesday, 02.21.2007 / 12:00 AM ET / News
New York Islanders
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(ANOTHER) BIG GAME
Islanders and Leafs tied going into Thursday's matchup

Both the Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs will look to overtake the other in the Eastern Conference standings when they face off at the Nassau Coliseum Thursday night. The teams sit tied for ninth in the East, one point behind eighth-place Carolina and trailing seventh-place Montreal by two points.

"All the teams are still close," said head coach Ted Nolan. "Teams can go on a long winning streak like Pittsburgh and then they can lose a few in a row, so it all evens out. We knew it would be tight, but we didn't know it would be this tight."

How tight is it? The 11th-place New York Rangers are only ten points behind fourth-place Pittsburgh. Even the 13th-place Florida Panthers are only nine points out of a playoff spot.

"As a coaching staff we looked at the standings a month and half ago and there isn't too much of a difference now," said Nolan.

The last time Toronto and the Islanders matched up, the Leafs were holding a one-point lead, but the Isles evened the point totals by defeating them via a shootout 3-2 last Tuesday. The first star of the game was Rick DiPietro, who had to be superb in the third period, overtime and shootout to secure the victory. His 16 saves in the third period alone guaranteed the Islanders at least a point in a game they were out-shot 41-20. Frans Nielsen and Viktor Kozlov converted in the shootout.

The Islanders found themselves down 1-0 after the first period, but deficits haven't fazed them one bit as they have come from behind to win a number of games during their recent stretch. Their most recent contest -- a 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins -- saw the Islanders come back to win after falling behind 3-1 in the second period.

"Coming back has to do with the character on this team," said Nolan. "Any minute, no matter what the score is, we think we have a chance to get at least a point. It also has to do with the rest we give this team, with some guidance from the off-ice conditioning and medical staff. The guys are healthy and ready to go."

 
PRACTICE NOTES
Rick DiPietro will get the start on Thursday. Said Nolan: "We kind of feel like we owe Rick one. He almost single-handedly won the game for us in Toronto. It would be nice to be great in front of him on Thursday."

Jason Blake missed Wednesday's practice at the Coliseum for personal reasons, but will re-join the team on Thursday morning. Same for Arron Asham, who is suffering from the flu¦

A sidenote from Monday's classic: a simple miscommunication from the press box downstairs during a crazy final minute of regulation led to the naming of all Islanders as the three stars in the team's 6-5 victory. Naturally, Ryan Malone, Sidney Crosby and Mark Recchi deserved consideration. Our apologies¦

Ted Nolan will be featured in the March installment of HBO "Real Sports," hosted by Bryant Gumbel. The piece is expected to debut on March 5 and be repeated throughout the month¦

For all of you Long Island students out there, see you on the Havoc Zone line on Thursday.

 

 

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 76 34 40 -3 74
R. Strome 75 15 32 19 47
K. Okposo 54 15 31 -10 46
F. Nielsen 75 13 28 9 41
B. Nelson 76 18 22 9 40
A. Lee 70 23 16 12 39
J. Bailey 64 15 23 4 38
J. Boychuk 66 8 25 9 33
T. Hamonic 66 5 25 16 30
N. Leddy 72 10 19 15 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 35 16 2 .915 2.39
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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