While the suddenly hot Islanders have turned things around since a franchise- record losing streak this season, the Oilers will be looking to avoid an eighth straight setback in tonight's matchup at Rexall Place.
Edmonton is 0-5-2 since its last victory on Dec. 16 and is on its longest skid since an epic 13-game slide from Dec. 31-Jan. 30 of last season. Despite goals from Gilbert Brule, Theo Peckham and Sam Gagner on Tuesday, the Oilers dropped a 5-3 decision to the Red Wings.
Nikolai Khabibulin was dented for all five goals on 37 shots for the loss, which dropped the Oilers to 0-3-1 on a five-game homestand and 6-11-3 as the hosts overall this season.
"When a team like Detroit comes in here, it's tough," said Oilers coach Tom Renney. "I'd rather have a tough night when we're going after it and stepping on the accelerator than playing with trepidation -- we can't do that."
The Islanders know what the Oilers are going through, having endured a club- record 0-11-3 stretch from Oct. 23-Nov. 24. However, New York is currently on its third three-game winning streak of the season and can claim a fourth straight victory tonight for the first time since Jan. 9-18 of last year.
New York is 7-1-1 over its last nine games and opened a five-game road trip with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Red Wings on New Year's Eve. The Isles then headed to Calgary and posted a 5-2 victory on Monday.
Matt Moulson and John Tavares both scored twice, while the latter added an assist. P.A. Parenteau and Andrew McDonald each added two helpers for the Islanders, who lost starting netminder Rick DiPietro in the second period with an adductor strain.
DiPietro made 13 saves before exiting and Nathan Lawson made 28 saves in relief. The injury to DiPietro came just two days after New York dealt veteran netminder Dwayne Roloson to Tampa Bay.
"It was a good all-around win," Tavares said. "It was great for Lawson to come in and do his thing coming in cold. Everyone did their role tonight."
DiPietro, who did not practice on Wednesday, is questionable for this game and Kevin Poulin was recalled from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League to back up Lawson if necessary.
The 27-year-old Lawson made the first and only start of his career on Dec. 18 versus Phoenix, making 32 saves in a shootout loss.
"The organization and the whole team has faith in Lawson," defenseman Andrew MacDonald told New York's website. "He wouldn't be here if that wasn't the case. I've played with him the last two years and I personally know what he's capable of. He handles his own and he showed last game that he's fully capable of handling a job like that."
New York defenseman Milan Jurcina will play for the first time tonight since signing a one-year contract extension on Wednesday. He has two goals and two assists in 19 games this year with a club-best plus-one rating.
The Islanders notched a 3-1 home win over the Oilers last season for their seventh victory in the last nine meetings. However, they have lost their last two trips to Edmonton and haven't won there since March 13, 2003.