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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, January 2nd (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (28-7-7) at New York Islanders (13-21-7), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Islanders will aim for their first three- game winning streak of the season when the host the Chicago Blackhawks in Thursday's clash at Nassau Coliseum.
With recent road wins in Minnesota and Boston, the Islanders have managed to take consecutive games for only the second time this season, following another two-game winning streak from Nov. 1-2.
The Isles rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Bruins by a 5-3 score on Tuesday. John Tavares netted a pair of third-period goals and picked up two assists to lead New York to the triumph at TD Garden.
Frans Nielsen tallied twice and Kyle Okposo added a goal and two helpers for the Islanders, who haven't won three straight since April 16-20 of last season. Thomas Vanek and Andrew McDonald each contributed two assists to back a 35-save effort by Evgeni Nabokov.
"We found a way to win tonight and the power play came up huge," Okposo said. "We made good plays, got back to out-manning guys, moved [the puck] around and didn't force anything. When they were tired, we capitalized."
The Islanders went 4-for-8 on the power play in the win.
New York hopes to end its longest home slide since the 1999-2000 season tonight, as the Isles have lost eight straight at the Coliseum since beating Detroit in a shootout on Nov. 16.
The Isles, who are kicking off a three-game homestand tonight, are just 5-8-7 as the host this season.
The Blackhawks will get goaltender Corey Crawford back tonight after the club's No. 1 backstop missed the last 10 games with a lower-body injury. Crawford is 2-0 with a 1.92 goals against average in two career tilts against the Islanders and he is 17-6-3 with a 2.47 GAA this season.
Chicago enters Thursday on a seven-game point streak (5-0-2) and the defending Stanley Cup champions won for the third time in four games when it posted a 1-0 regulation decision Monday against visiting Los Angeles.
Brandon Saad scored the game's only goal and rookie Antti Raanta recorded his first career shutout to help the Blackhawks edge the Kings in a battle between the last two Stanley Cup winners.
Saad lit the lamp 7:05 into the game to get the Blackhawks on the board and provide Raanta with the only support he would need, as the 24-year-old netminder turned aside 26 shots, including 15 in the second stanza.
"We're just working hard and getting back to basics," said Saad. "We've been getting our chances and it was only a matter of time until we got one in."
Chicago is 13-5-2 as the visiting team this season and is beginning a brief two-game road trip tonight. The Blackhawks will cap the swing tomorrow night in New Jersey.
The Blackhawks have won four straight in the series against the Isles. Chicago snapped a three-game slide at the Coliseum with a 3-2 overtime win when it last visited Long Island on Dec. 8, 2011. Patrick Sharp scored the OT game- winner for Chicago in that win over two years ago.
01/02 10:38:27 ET
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