The New York Islanders better improve their special teams play in a hurry as they visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday. New York has allowed five short-handed goals in 33 attempts - including two in Thursday’s 6-4 loss at Minnesota - and were 0-for-5 on the power-play, dropping the NHL’s worst unit to 2-for-33.
Islanders coach Doug Weight was upset, telling reporters: “The power play, just lethargic, lax, soft. Zero battle, decisions, execution, little flip passes, half-speed breakout, just really unacceptable. It’s just over-handle, soft plays, it’s just embarrassing and it’s going to change tomorrow. That’s it.” New York will be hard-pressed to fix its problems overnight as Nashville boasts the league’s No. 6 power-play unit despite going 1-for-6 in Friday’s 2-1 victory at Chicago while its No. 6 penalty kill went 6-for-6. The Predators snapped a two-game slide Friday and return home where they are 3-0-1. Nashville’s Filip Forsberg, who scored in each of the previous two games prior to Friday, leads Nashville with seven goals and 12 points.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, MSG Plus 2 (New York), FSN Tennessee (Nashville)
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (5-4-1): John Tavares (six goals, 10 points) was held off the scoresheet Thursday after erupting for four goals and three assists in his previous two games. Anders Lee shares the club lead in goals with Tavares after scoring for the fourth time in four games Thursday while Josh Bailey (10 points) registered three assists versus Minnesota, giving him a team-most seven, and he owns a five-game point streak (two goals, six assists). Jaroslav Halak (3-2-0, 2.72 goals-against average, .913 save percentage) will likely get the start Saturday after Thomas Greiss (2-2-1, 3.69, .898) stopped 27-of-33 shots Thursday.
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (5-3-2): Craig Smith scored his 100th career goal and second of the season to break a 1-1 tie Friday. Pekka Rinne made 43 saves versus Chicago, improving to 5-1-2 with a .940 save percentage. “It feels great,” Rinne told reporters. “Big division game, big two points. We were able to hang in there, and from the second period on, I thought we played pretty well. ...”
1. New York RW Jordan Eberle has six assists in 10 games and a team-worst minus-5 in his first season with the Islanders.
2. The Islanders are 2-4-0 on the road, getting outscored 21-14, while Nashville owns a 16-9 goals advantage at home.
3. The clubs split last season’s two-game series with each winning on the road as New York won in Nashville for only the second time in its last nine tries.
PREDICTION: Predators 3, Islanders 2