After a disappointing road trip, the NY Islanders are glad to be back east in the comfort of their own facilities. After dropping three of four on the trip to Seattle and Western Canada, the team has fallen out of playoff position, tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have two fewer games played.
With their 4-1 defeat to the Calgary Flames on Friday night, the Isles have fallen below .500 on the road this season. At 10-11-2, the Islanders have scored and allowed a matching 71 goals this season while on the road - an average of just over three a game. On the contrary, within the familiar confines of UBS Arena, the Isles have posted a 12-6 record while scoring 3.22 goals per game and allowing just 2.27.
A big part of the team's home success (and success overall) has been backstopped by the stellar play of Ilya Sorokin. The Isles third year netminder has posted the second-best save percentage at home this season (.939) behind only Linus Ullmark (.940) and sits third in home goals against average (1.86), trailing Ilya Samsonov (1.77) and Ullmark (1.78).
The team has shown comfort playing in front of the Islanders faithful this season - where they will play six of the next seven, including intradivision matchups against the Washington Capitals and the Carolina Hurricanes.
With the news out of practice yesterday, the Isles are on the mend, with many of their injured players eyeing a return to play. Mat Barzal, who missed Friday's game, was back in full yesterday, along with Simon Hölmstrom, who was integrated into the team's practice.
Kyle Palmieri was an extra at practice yesterday, while Head Coach Lane Lambert noted that Adam Pelech had been back skating for the past three days. Oliver Wahlstrom has still not resumed on-ice activities yet.
As the Metropolitan Division standings grow tighter by the day, the Islanders will need a successful homestand if they are to remain in the playoff race. The team will be back in action tonight as they host the Dallas Stars. The Isles fell to the Stars back in November on their trip to Dallas after allowing three third-period goals in a 5-2 defeat.