One losing streak that felt historic ended Tuesday night for the New York Islanders. On Thursday, they’ll get a chance to snap a skid that actually is bound for the record books.
The Islanders will look to win their first game at their new home Thursday night when they host the Nashville Predators at UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y.
Both teams were off Wednesday after earning road wins Tuesday night, when the Islanders beat the Ottawa Senators 5-3 and the Predators defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-2.
The win ended an 11-game losing streak (0-8-3) for the Islanders, whose hopes of finally advancing beyond the NHL semifinals — they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the final four in each of the last two seasons — were endangered by injuries to leading scorer Brock Nelson and defenseman Ryan Pulock as well as a COVID-19 outbreak. Eight players were placed in protocols last month for New York, which had a trio of games postponed before returning to action Dec. 2.
The Islanders earned points by getting to overtime or the shootout in each of their first three games back from pause, but the 11-game skid was still the longest for the franchise since a 14-game losing streak (0-11-3) from Oct. 23 through Nov. 24, 2010.
On Tuesday, the Islanders never trailed and took control when Oliver Wahlstrom and captain Anders Lee scored 27 seconds apart late in the second. Lee, who said he had two difficult days while battling COVID-19 last month, finished with two goals as New York scored its most goals since a 6-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 4.
“This was a shock to us — very tough mentally to grind out,” Lee said of the losing streak. “There’s times where it feels like it’s never going to go your way and the only way to get out of something like this is sticking together. We broke through tonight. Now we can put this stretch behind us and really start to build off of it.”
The Islanders are still seeking their first win at UBS Arena, where they are 0-4-2 since the building opened Nov. 20. It is the longest home arena-opening losing streak for an NHL team. The Columbus Blue Jackets opened 0-5-0 at Nationwide Arena in their debut season in 2000-01.
For the Predators, the win Tuesday continued a lengthy stretch of impressively consistent play. Nashville is 13-6-1 since a 1-4-0 start and has suffered back-to-back losses just once — on Nov. 16 and 20 — in that span.
“When you come closer to Christmas and New Year’s, you want to have that dialed in,” Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm told The Tennessean. “You’re not going to win every game, but as long as you see your game is there and your effort is there … it’s a process.”
The Predators raced to a 2-0 first-period lead Tuesday and led 4-1 early in the third period on their way to outshooting the Red Wings 33-16 as they snapped Detroit’s winning streak at five games.
“That’s a good team that has been playing really well, but I felt like we were able to control all 60 minutes,” Predators defenseman Roman Josi said.
–Field Level Media