Zeros are wild as Islanders host Minnesota
NEW YORK -- It took the New York Islanders only 24 hours to rewrite the narrative of their season.
Now they have to hope 48 hours off didn't undo the magic they conjured in a historic set of back-to-back games late last week.
The Islanders will look to maintain their sudden stinginess Monday afternoon, when they host the Minnesota Wild in a Presidents Day matinee at Barclays Center.
The teams enter Monday with at least a share of a wild-card spot in their respective conferences.
The Islanders, who are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference, earned their second consecutive shutout win Friday night, when they beat the host Hurricanes 3-0.
Minnesota occupies the second wild card in the Western Conference despite dropping its second straight game Saturday when the visiting Anaheim Ducks posted a 3-2 shootout victory that took 11 rounds, the longest shootout in Wild history.
The shutouts by the Islanders (29-25-6) were noteworthy and unexpected in more ways than one. It marked the first time New York had authored shutouts on consecutive nights and the first time an NHL team had 45-save shutouts. Thomas Greiss stopped 45 shots on Friday and Jaroslav Halak made 50 saves in a 3-0 victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday.
All of this from a team that leads the NHL with 214 goals allowed and is on pace to surrender 286 goals, which would be the most since the Colorado Avalanche gave up 288 during the 2010-11 season.
The wins might have saved the season for the Islanders, who were three points behind the Hurricanes heading into Thursday's game against the Rangers. The winning streak is the first for the Islanders since a three-game run from Jan. 7 to Jan. 15. In between, they went 4-7-2.
"We want to turn the corner," Islanders center Anders Lee told reporters after practice Sunday. "We want to put together three, four games in a row with wins and start to really gain that momentum. We are all sick of this one-win, one-loss, one-win, two-losses thing. It's been a constant roller coaster, and we just want to start going up."
The Wild (31-20-7) are battling some inconsistency as well. Minnesota's current skid was preceded by a two-game winning streak, which in turn was preceded by a four-game span in which it alternated wins with losses.
Monday's matchup opens a three-game New York road trip for the Wild, who know their playoff hopes will be strengthened by "winning" the week against the Islanders, Rangers and New Jersey Devils.
"All we can control is if we win, we get two points," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau told the team's website Sunday. "If you win every week, then you're going to be OK."
Halak is expected to oppose the Wild's Devan Dubnyk in a battle of No. 1 goalies. Dubnyk took the loss Saturday, when he made 29 saves against the Ducks.
Halak is 3-2-4 in 11 career regular-season appearances against the Wild. Dubnyk is 4-4-0 in eight games against the Islanders.
Updated February 18, 2018