(Sports Network) - The New York Islanders will try to get back on track and avoid a fourth straight loss when they welcome the Buffalo Sabres for tonight's battle at Nassau Coliseum.
New York, which is seeded 14th out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference, had been playing its best hockey of the season just a few weeks back, but the Isles have lost three in a row after going 8-2-1 in their previous 11 games.
New York had also won three straight on home ice before losing the first two games of its current five-game homestand. The Isles are just 7-8-4 as the host club this season.
The Islanders are 0-2-1 during their current three-game slide, which is the team's worst skid since it dropped six in a row from Dec. 2-13.
New York's most recent setback came Thursday evening against visiting Ottawa, which halted a six-game losing streak with a 6-4 victory at the Coliseum. Robin Lehner recorded a win in his first NHL start with 20 saves for the Senators.
Milan Jurcina posted a goal and an assist for the Islanders. Trevor Gillies, P.A. Parenteau and Blake Comeaueach tallied in the loss.
Kevin Poulin started the game for New York, but after giving up two goals on eight shots, he was pulled in favor for Nathan Lawson, who then gave up four second period goals. Poulin came back in the third where he made 11 saves.
"I don't think they played bad," Parenteau said of the Isles' goalie play. "There was a few bad bounces in the second period. I don't think we played very well in front them."
With regular starter Rick DiPietro hampered by a strained adductor muscle, it is expected that either Poulin or fellow rookie Lawson will get the start tonight.
Isles forward Frans Nielsen is also questionable for tonight after missing the last five games with a strained groin.
Tonight marks the first of four meetings between the Isles and Sabres this season. The entire season series will be contested over the span of a month, as the clubs will meet for a home-and-home set on Jan. 21 and 23 before capping the series in Buffalo on Feb. 13.
The clubs split four meetings a year ago, but the Sabres have taken six of the last 10 encounters overall. Buffalo has dropped three straight and five of its last seven tilts on Long Island.
The Sabres have won three of their last four games and they have suffered just one regulation loss in seven games (5-1-1). The lone regulation setback over that span came in Tuesday's 5-2 loss to Philadelphia, but Buffalo was able to rebound two nights later with a win against Carolina
Ryan Miller made 27 saves and Thomas Vanek set up two goals, helping the Sabres skate to the 3-2 win over the visiting Hurricanes. Nathan Gerbe, Cody McCormick, and Drew Stafford also scored for the Sabres.
"We were smarter, we were more patient and we gained momentum as we went on," Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said.
Buffalo is 9-8-4 as the visiting team this year and will shoot for a third straight road victory tonight.