National Hockey League

NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, February 28th (All times Eastern)

Toronto Maple Leafs (12-9-0) at New York Islanders (8-11-1), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The New York Islanders will try to avoid a third straight loss to open their longest homestand of the season when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in Thursday's clash at Nassau Coliseum.

New York had won two straight heading into its seven-game homestand, but failed to earn a single point in the first two contests, losing in regulation to both Carolina and Boston.

The Bruins posted a 4-1 win Tuesday on Long Island, as Tuukka Rask stopped 26- of-27 shots sent his way. Casey Cizikas provided the sole offense for the Islanders, who have lost four of six. Evgeni Nabokov yielded three goals on 33 shots in the setback.

"We competed hard," said Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "That's one of the best teams that we're going to play and I give our guys credit. We did a lot of good things. A couple breakdowns cost us some goals."

The Islanders are just 2-8-0 as the host this season and rank dead last in the NHL with an average official attendance of 13,109 fans per game.

The Maple Leafs lost for the second time in three games on Wednesday, dropping a 5-2 decision to the visiting Montreal Canadiens. Brendan Gallagher provided the go-ahead goal midway through the third period, as the Habs lit the lamp three times in the final frame to down their Original Six rivals.

"When you get embarrassed at home, the next time you play them you put a lot of emphasis on the game," Gallagher said, referring to a 6-0 rout the Leafs handed the Canadiens in Montreal on Feb. 9.

Frazer McLaren and Clarke MacArthur each scored once in the loss, while Ben Scrivens allowed four goals on 39 shots in the setback, Toronto's third in its last five games.

"We were flat," Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle admitted. "It looked like at times that we were playing in our boots and they were playing on skates."

Scrivens has made the last eight starts for Toronto while regular No. 1 James Reimer was out with a knee injury. However, Scrivens could give way to Reimer on Thursday, as the latter player was activated from injured reserve Wednesday and served as the backup in the loss to the Habs.

Then again, with Toronto's next game not coming until Monday against New Jersey, Carlyle could opt to give Reimer even more time to heal.

Toronto has won two straight and three of its last four games at the Coliseum and the Maple Leafs have five victories over the past eight meetings in this series overall.

The Leafs are 8-4-0 as the visiting team this season, tying them for the most road wins in the NHL.

02/28 10:45:20 ET