The surging New York Islanders begin a four-game road trip when they visit the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.
New York is 5-1-1 in its past seven games and moved three points ahead of Philadelphia for third place in the Metropolitan Division by beating the visiting Flyers 5-3 on Tuesday night.
The win came one night after an impressive 5-3 victory at Washington. New York is just five points behind the first-place Capitals.
“This was a great two days for us, a couple of character wins and high-intensity games,” New York’s Anders Lee said. “It was a team effort, top to bottom.”
Ryan Pulock scored the game-winner with 41 seconds remaining after New York had surrendered a 3-0 lead. Forwards Josh Bailey, Jordan Eberle and Leo Komarov each had a goal and an assist for the Islanders, and Semyon Varlamov made 35 saves.
“There’s no panic on our bench, I think we’ve seen that in the last little while,” coach Barry Trotz said of his team, which scored the game-winner less than a minute after giving up the tying goal late in regulation. “We’ve responded in the right times, and tonight we did again.”
The news was not all good for the Islanders on Tuesday. Forward Casey Cizikas will be out three to four weeks after being cut on the left leg by the skate of Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov. Cizikas has 14 points (10 goals, four assists) in 48 games.
“Other teams around the league have had major injuries and just keep the next-man-up mentality,” Trotz said. “That’s what we’ve been doing.”
New York is already without forward Cal Clutterbuck (wrist) and defenseman Adam Pelech (Achilles).
Nashville returns home after a four-game road trip to Western Canada. The Predators finished 2-2-0, first beating the Winnipeg Jets (in overtime) and Calgary Flames, but then losing at the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks.
They fell behind the Canucks 4-0 by early in the second period on Monday in what ended up a 6-2 loss.
The Predators sit fifth in the Western Conference wild-card standings entering Wednesday, five points behind the Vegas Golden Knights and Arizona Coyotes.
“These are big games, but to have no emotion in the first period and playing the game at the hardness you need to play with this time of year is something that we got to figure out why,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. “I still believe that comes down to mindset. Why was our mindset not right to start the game?”
Craig Smith and Mikael Granlund scored to pull the Predators within 4-2 but Vancouver responded. Granlund has five goals in the past eight games.
In his first appearance in four games, goalie Pekka Rinne was lifted after giving up four goals on 17 shots in 21 minutes. Juuse Saros stopped 13 of 15 shots in relief.
“I told him when he came out, I didn’t pull him because of (his play),” Hynes said. “We had to play better in front of him, and unfortunately we played better when (Juuse) went in and (Winnipeg goalie Jacob) Markstrom stood tall.”
Forward Calle Jarnkrok returned to the Nashville lineup on Monday night after missing the previous five games due to illness.
The Predators are just 11-11-4 at Bridgestone Arena and have seven home games remaining in February. New York is 15-9-2 on the road.
–Field Level Media