The New York Islanders may be on a roll in relation to their expectations, but the Vancouver Canucks’ recent run has propelled them to the top of the NHL standings.
New York returns home after a five-game road trip Tuesday night to face Vancouver, which has earned a point in 16 straight contests.
Watch the game at 4 p.m. PT on Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey, with Canucks Connected at 3:30 p.m. PT.
The Canucks (27-8-6) haven’t lost in regulation since a 3-2 defeat to St. Louis on Dec. 5. They’re 13-0-3 since, averaging 4.6 goals during that stretch, and their 3.4 average this season leads the league.
Two of Vancouver’s losses during its 17-1-3 run over its last 21 games have come to Detroit, which defeated the Canucks 2-1 in a shootout Saturday. Despite the rare loss, the Canucks were happy with their performance.
“We played well, we definitely deserved two points (Saturday),” Ryan Kesler told the team’s official website. “It’s a shootout loss, what are you going to do? They don’t have shootouts in the playoffs. We’ve got to stay positive in here and just keep playing the way we’re playing and we’ll be fine.”
Roberto Luongo, who made 24 appearances for the Islanders in his 1999-2000 rookie season before being traded to Florida, made 32 saves. He’s 8-0-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average since Dec. 8, losing twice to the Red Wings.
Despite his recent success, Luongo hasn’t fared well against his former team in recent seasons. He’s 1-2-2 with a 3.33 GAA since 2005, including a 5-2 loss March 16 in the teams’ lone meeting last season.
New York (13-21-6) traded veteran Dwayne Roloson to Tampa Bay for a minor-league prospect on New Year’s Day, then Rick DiPietro was sidelined with a lower-body injury two days later and has missed the last three games.
Interim coach Jack Capuano had no update on when DiPietro may return.
Kevin Poulin won his only start Saturday, making 34 saves and beating Colorado 4-3. Nathan Lawson made 40 saves Sunday in a 5-0 loss to Chicago. It’s unclear who will get the responsibility of trying to shut down the NHL’s top offense, but the Islanders know they need to play better in front of their young netminders.
“We didn’t play very well and we didn’t show up for him (Lawson),” forward P.A. Parenteau told the team’s official website after the loss to the Blackhawks. “That’s unacceptable. We’re going to have to fix that.”
Despite the lopsided defeat, New York finished its road trip 3-2-0. The Islanders are 8-3-1 following a stretch in which they dropped 20 of 21.
John Tavares, who has six goals and eight assists in his last 12 games, said the Islanders must start with more energy than they have over their last three games.
“We haven’t started well the last three games, and that probably took a toll on us in the last two,” Tavares said, “A team like us can’t afford to take a period off or even the first 10 minutes off.”
The Islanders have won the last two meetings and four of five at home against the Canucks.
NOTES: Stephane Auger will be one of the two referees in the game, the first time he’s officiated a Canucks contest since the infamous game exactly one year ago when Burrows was penalized by Auger four times in the third period of a loss to the Nashville Predators. Burrows claimed Auger told him before the game he was going to “get him back” for making him look bad in a prior game. The NHL investigated but found now evidence to support any discipline … Kesler and both Henrik and Daniel Sedin were named to the roster for the NHL all-star game in Carolina, taking place on Sunday, Jan. 30.