Sabres-Islanders Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 15, 2013

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)
Looking to extend their points streak at home, the New York Islanders should be feeling confident about snapping their first skid of the season. That's because the Buffalo Sabres are simply trying to avoid the worst start in franchise history. Behind productive captain John Tavares, the Islanders hope to get back on track by earning points in their ninth straight regular-season home game Tuesday night against the winless Sabres. New York (2-2-1) opened the season 2-0-1 before falling 3-2 in Chicago on Friday and 3-2 in Nashville a night later. Despite the loss Saturday, Tavares - third in the MVP voting last season after a 28-goal season - continued to shine with his third goal in as many games. Tavares also has five goals and five assists in seven career home meetings with the Sabres (0-6-1). Now the Islanders appear to be in good position to avoid losing three straight in regulation for the first time in 29 games, including last postseason. They're 6-0-2 in their last eight regular-season home games, outscoring opponents 29-11 over that stretch. Tavares has played a leading role with five goals and five assists during this run at home. He finished with a pair of scores - one on the power play - in a 6-1 win over Phoenix last Tuesday before New York hit the road. The Islanders have converted 3 of 8 chances on the power play at home, but are 0 for 7 with a man advantage on the road after coming up empty in their three opportunities against the Predators. "We had a four-minute power play that didn't generate much, which is not good enough,'' Tavares said. "We have to find a way to get better in those areas at those times in the game.'' Although the Sabres have killed 20 of 23 penalties, they've struggled mightily on the attack with two power-play goals in 25 opportunities and a franchise-worst seven scores overall through seven games. With its 2-1 loss to Minnesota on Monday, Buffalo matched the team record set in 1990-91 and 1999-2000 by going winless in its first seven contests. "You're not going to win many games scoring one goal,'' Sabres coach Ron Rolston said. "We need our top six to step up.'' Thomas Vanek, who led the team with 20 goals and 41 points last season, has two scores and four points. The left wing has two goals and two assists in his last four meetings with the Islanders. The Sabres likely will face goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who has started four of New York's five games. Nabokov, 2-1-1 with a 2.17 goals-against average, is 3-2-1 with a 1.82 GAA in his last six starts against the Sabres. Buffalo's Ryan Miller is expected to be back in net after getting Monday off in favor of Jhonas Enroth, who made 18 saves against the Wild. Miller has a .941 save percentage despite dropping his first four starts. He's posted a 2.13 GAA while helping the Sabres take four of the last five meetings with the Islanders.
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