The New York Islanders conclude their Ontario trip tonight as they take on John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Downing Toronto will be a tough task - they have won five straight contests and have the second most points and second highest goal differential in the NHL, only trailing their division rivals in the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Islanders are two points out of a playoff spot with a game in hand over the Pittsburgh Penguins and everyone knows that they’d like to say they re-entered playoff positioning by defeating their former franchise centre, even if it only wound up being for an hour.
Robin Lehner is getting the start in net tonight after he came in relief of Thomas Greiss last night and picked up the victory. Both goalies have been above average so far this season and are the principle reason that the Islanders have a chance at the Stanley Cup Playoffs so far this year. If there’s any contests that fans will want them to play well in, it’s likely these ones against Toronto.
Garret Sparks is stuck starting on back-to-back nights as Frederick Andersen is day-to-day with a groin injury. This is a huge opportunity for the Islanders as Andersen is a far better goalie than Sparks who is below league average. Not many are giving the Islanders a fighting chance, but if they come out on top it may just be because Sparks loses the game for Toronto.
It doesn’t look like there will be any changes to the lineup tonight, but Tom Kuhnhackl was banged up in last night’s game and Michael Dal Colle was called up after the team placed Jordan Eberle on I.R. If anything, that will be the lone change tonight. Luca Sbisa will be a healthy scratch.