TONIGHT IN ISLANDERS COUNTRY
The Islanders end a three-game homestand by playing host to Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The third of four meetings between the teams commences at 7 p.m. at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders had consecutive wins for the first time in two months in their grasp, but allowed the tying goal with 88 seconds to play in an eventual 4-3 shootout loss to the Coyotes Saturday night on Long Island. Nathan Lawson made 32 saves, but the decision to start the AHL journeyman in lieu of the reliable Dwayne Roloson with a chance to build a modest winning streak was a bizarre one not uncommon to this organization.
Islanders: James Wisniewski (2-15-17)
Lightning: Steven Stamkos (26-21-47)
Isles: Dwayne Roloson (2-12-1, 2.67, .906 %)
Lightning: Dan Ellis (9-5-4, 3.11, 879 %)
NEWS OF THE DAY
Josh Bailey is back. The ninth-overall pick in the 2008 draft has been recalled from Bridgeport to take the place of Matt Martin, suspended two games for a blind-side check to the head of Phoenix’s Vernon Fiddler on Dec. 13. Bailey was 6-11-17 in 11 games with the Sound Tigers since his November 24 assignment that followed 13 straight games without a point. Bailey will have to clear waivers to be sent back to the minors, so expect him to remain with the big club the rest of the season.
STATE OF THE ISLES
Six goals in two games measures progress for the Islanders. However, they remain next-to-last in goals per game (2.17) and near the bottom in power-play percentage (14.7 percent).
Led by Stamkos, the Lightning are coming together and arrive seeking their fifth straight win. Stamkos scored his 100th career goal in Monday’s 5-1 victory over Carolina, making him the sixth player in league history to reach 100 goals before his 21st birthday, and is on pace to pass his single-season high of 51.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Mike Hume has the breakdown at ESPNNewYork.com, citing the adjustments required on defense to stop Stamkos and friends with Mike Mottau done for the season. John Tavares, a player the Isles are hoping becomes their Stamkos, hasn’t scored in nine games and his point-per-game totals are down from last season.
“I want to see the game that Josh played in Bridgeport and the American Hockey League to carry over right now as he comes back to our hockey club.” – Jack Capuano on Josh Bailey
Follow Jon Lane on Twitter.