Islanders-Maple Leafs Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 23, 2012

UNIONDALE, NY - JANUARY 12: John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders looks on during the game against the Detroit Red Wings at the Nassau Coliseum on January 12, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
John Tavares has the last-place New York Islanders surging. He's also on the verge of the team's longest scoring streak in 12 years. The third-year center will try to lead the Islanders to a season-high fourth straight win when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night to open a home-and-home set. Tavares has eight goals and 13 assists during a career-high 12-game point streak, while the Islanders (19-21-6) have gone 8-4-0 in those contests. He had just four points over his previous nine games and New York went 2-6-1. Now, Tavares on the brink of becoming the first Islander to go 13 consecutive games with a point since Mariusz Czerkawski from Jan. 22-Feb. 19, 2000. "I'm trying to contribute the best I can to get us where we want to be," said the 21-year-old Tavares, who will be the Islanders' lone representative at this weekend's All-Star game. "We're really coming together as a team lately. I think we can be even better. We just have to play with confidence." Tavares has three goals and two assists during the Islanders' season high-tying three-game winning streak. He scored both of New York's goals in Saturday's 2-1 victory over Carolina, winning it with 1:02 left in overtime. The Islanders, who haven't won four in a row since last Feb. 10-15, have dropped four of their last six visits to Toronto (23-19-5). Tavares had a goal in the most recent meeting Dec. 23 at home, but was a minus-2 as New York fell 5-3 to the Maple Leafs. A childhood Leafs fan while growing up roughly 20 miles from Toronto, Tavares has three goals and one assist in four career games there. Right wing P.A. Parenteau is also providing some scoring punch with two goals and eight assists in his last eight games. He had two assists against the Leafs last month, giving him six points in seven career meetings. Evgeni Nabokov figures to be in net again for New York after a 32-save effort Saturday. He has a 0.98 goals-against average during a personal four-game winning streak. While the Islanders trying to maintain their momentum, the Maple Leafs are in search of some after losing four of five including a 3-1 home loss to Montreal on Saturday. "We started well. We really took the pace to them," said captain Dion Phaneuf, who has gone six games without a point. "As the game wore on, it became who's gonna make a mistake first. We broke. That's disappointing, but we're going to have to move forward quickly." All-Stars Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel have stalled recently. Lupul has a team-high 51 points, but has failed to record any in four of his last six games. Kessel's scoring troubles may be more concerning, as he's managed one goal and one assist with a minus-6 rating in his last six contests. Kessel, who leads Toronto with 25 goals, has nine and six assists in his last 13 matchups with the Islanders. Lupul has five goals in his last six games versus New York. These teams will meet again Tuesday night on Long Island.
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