The NY Islanders are coming home after going 2-1 on their California road trip, with the most recent game being a 4-1 win against the San Jose Sharks. Their first goal came shorthanded courtesy of J.G. Pageau to tie the game at one off a beautiful fake to slide it past Kaapo Kahkonen. Kyle Palmieri scored his 12th of the season deflecting Noah Dobson's shot from the blue line, which stood as the game-winner. Ryan Pulock scored his first power-play goal of the season by blasting a hard shot from the point to make it a two-goal lead for New York in the second. Zach Parise added the finishing touch to make it 4-1 about five minutes into the third period, similar to their previous game against the Anaheim Ducks. Ilya Sorokin played another great game on the road, stopping 29 of 30 shots on the night.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are coming off a 5-4 win against the Ottawa Senators in a game that was decided in a 9-round shootout. The marathon was ended by Alex Kerfoot at the bottom of the 9th inning to get Matt Murray the win against the team that traded him last offseason. Murray made an impressive 48 saves on the 52 shots he faced. Calle Jarnkrok netted two goals for the Leafs, while both Auston Matthews and John Tavares registered two assists. Mitch Marner also finished with one goal and one assist along with three blocks.
These teams each have one win against one another this season entering their final meeting. Both games have come in Toronto this season, with the latest being a 5-2 Maple Leafs win. William Nylander dominated the blue and orange, scoring two goals and two assists in the win. Tavares also had one goal and one assist against his former team. Their first matchup went in favor of the Isles, earning a 3-2 win back in November. Anthony Beauvillier scored the overtime winner on a 2-on-1 after Josh Bailey tied the game late in the third period. Notably, Oliver Wahlstrom got into a scrap with Rasmus Sandin after clipping Matthews, where Wahlstrom defended himself well and pumped new momentum into the Islanders when they were down by one.
Players to Watch
Noah Dobson has been one of the quieter players for the Islanders for the last month or so. He only has five points in his last 12 games but is currently on a two-game point streak. He registered an assist against the Ducks and Sharks, and the Islanders will need him to get hot at the right time. He has not exactly been the greatest on the defensive end either to make up for a lack of offense. Dobson did score the first goal in the Islanders' win against Toronto back in November and did not play in their most recent matchup, so he could pick up right where he left off against them tonight.
If there is anyone that the Islanders will need to watch, it has to be Nylander after his last performance against them. The Swedish winger could not be stopped, contributing to four of the Leafs' five goals they scored. Nylander has 35 goals and 44 assists for 79 points on the season and is only one point away from tying his career high. He may skate on the third line with lower-profile players, but he gives that line all the reason for the Islanders to emphasize stopping them.