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Surging Isles aim for another road win in Florida
(SportsNetwork.com) - Earlier this season, the New York Islanders lost 10 games in a row on the road.
On Tuesday, the suddenly-streaking Isles can match the longest road winning streak in franchise history as they visit the Florida Panthers looking for an eighth straight win away from home.
The Islanders went a little over a month between road wins earlier this season, with that previous slide lasting from Nov. 5-Dec. 9 before a road win over the San Jose Sharks the following night.
It has now been over a month since New York last tasted defeat on the road, a 6-3 loss in Phoenix on Dec. 12. Following consecutive home losses, the Islanders began what is now the second-longest road winning streak in franchise history with a 5-3 win over the New York Rangers on Dec. 20.
The Isles appeared on their way to a loss in Dallas on Sunday, but scored three times in the final 4:16 of the game to rally for a 4-2 win. Kyle Okposo had two goals, including the game-tying marker, and John Tavares netted the game-winner with 1:24 to play.
Brock Nelson added an empty-net tally and Kevin Poulin won his fifth straight decision by making 29 saves, settling down nicely after allowing two first- period goals.
"I thought we were watching a little bit, but again we were still right there," said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. "We came in (following) the second and we came back out and we started to get going a little bit. We tried to activate our (defense) a little more and apply a little more pressure on the forecheck and things started to come for us."
New York now has a chance to match the club-record eight-game road winning streak from Feb. 27-March 29, 1981.
The Isles have also won a season-high four straight games and seven of their last eight overall. The franchise has not won five straight since a six-game winning streak from Feb. 12-21, 2008.
Despite all this, the Islanders are still seven points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Panthers are two points behind the Islanders and have put together a 3-1-2 mark over their last six games. They managed a point on Saturday with a 2-1 overtime setback to the New Jersey Devils, yielding the winning goal with 2.1 seconds left on the clock.
The Panthers came up short despite a 34-save effort out of Tim Thomas, with Nick Bjugstad accounting for the lone Florida goal to highlight a team effort that left interim coach Peter Horachek less than impressed.
"They outplayed us most of the game," said Horachek said. "We scratched a point out of it. Timmy Thomas played well and kept us in it. You get a point out of something you didn't deserve."
This is the first of three meetings this season between the clubs, with the Islanders having won the last four encounters overall and three of their last four in Florida.
Poulin has never faced the Panthers, while Thomas is 10-6-1 with a 2.00 goals against average in his career when facing the Islanders.
Tavares has eight goals and 18 points in his last nine games and is tied for second in the NHL with 56 points. He has six goals and five assists in 15 career games versus the Panthers.
01/14 11:13:48 ET