NHL Hockey

2
Final 1 2 3 OT Tot
Chicago 1 0 1 0 2
NY Islanders 1 1 0 1 3
3
4:30 PM PT5:30 PM MT6:30 PM CT7:30 PM ET0:30 GMT8:30 5:30 PM MST7:30 PM EST4:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ETNaN:� BRT, January 3, 2019
Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York  Attendance: 13,454

Blackhawks-Islanders Preview

Chicago Blackhawks at New York Islanders

  1. The Blackhawks fell to the Bruins, 4-2, in the Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium on Tuesday. They dropped to 0-4 all-time in Winter Classics, and 1-5 in outdoor games overall (they defeated the Penguins in a 2014 Stadium Series game at Soldier Field).
  2. Brendan Perlini opened the scoring in the Winter Classic, his third goal in his last eight games. He had a total of two goals in his first 31 games, most of which were spent with the Coyotes.
  3. Chicago is 6-1-0 in its last seven games against the Islanders, including wins in each of its last three trips to Brooklyn. The Blackhawks have scored multiple goals in each of their last 12 road games against the Islanders, their longest such streak against any opponent.
  4. The Islanders beat the Sabres, 3-1, in Buffalo on Monday, their fourth consecutive win, and seventh in their last eight. They've allowed zero or one goal in five of those eight -- their 2.21 goals against per game since December 1 is the best in the league.
  5. Robin Lehner was named the first star of the game against his former team, the Sabres, after stopping 39 of 40 shots in New York's win. His 39 saves on the final day of 2018 were his most since making 39 saves on the first day of 2018, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Rangers in the 2018 Winter Classic at Citi Field.
  6. These teams have had very different defensive performances in the first period this season -- New York has allowed just 29 goals in the opening frame, tied with the Rangers for third fewest in the league. Chicago has allowed a league-high 56, nine more than any other team.

There haven't been many similarities lately between the Chicago Blackhawks, winners of three Stanley Cups this decade, and the New York Islanders, who haven't won a Cup in 35 years and have reached the conference finals once in the last 30 years.

But the Blackhawks and Islanders will have plenty in common Thursday night, when New York hosts Chicago in a battle of teams finding an identity under new head coaches.

The game at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., is the fourth of 21 regular-season contests the Islanders will play at their new/old home. New York played at the Coliseum from 1972 to 2015, when it moved to Brooklyn's Barclays Center, where it will play the other 20 regular-season home games.

The Blackhawks will be playing for the second time in 2019 after falling to the Boston Bruins, 4-2, in the Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind., on Tuesday. The Islanders extended their winning streak to four Monday night, when they beat the host Buffalo Sabres, 3-1.

The loss to the Bruins marked the fourth defeat in the past 10 games (6-3-1) for the Blackhawks (15-21-6), who have begun to steady themselves under new head coach Jeremy Colliton. The 33-year-old took over behind the bench when likely Hall of Famer Joel Quenneville, who was head coach for all three of Chicago's Cup-winning squads, was fired Nov. 6.

The surge is likely too little and too late to save the playoff hopes for the Blackhawks, whose current run was preceded by their second eight-game losing streak of the season. But Chicago is at least starting to get some reward for the work it has put in under Colliton over the last eight weeks.

"We're trying to develop as a group, and it's easier to ask things of the players when they're getting some positive reinforcement with results," Colliton said following Tuesday's loss.

"It's hard. You end up grinding guys down when you're losing, if you keep asking them to change things and do more and do more. It's a lot easier when you're winning."

The Islanders (21-13-4) have been rewarded plenty for accepting the changes instilled by Hall of Fame general manager Lou Lamoriello, who joined the organization in May, and defensive-minded first-year head coach Barry Trotz, who arrived in New York after coaching the Washington Capitals to the franchise's first Stanley Cup last season.

The Islanders, whose 296 goals allowed last season were the most surrendered in the NHL since 2006-07, will enter Thursday having allowed the fewest goals (102) in the league. New York has won seven of its past eight games, contending for a playoff spot.

Last year, the Islanders missed the playoffs by 17 points even with John Tavares, the superstar center who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent in July.

"We're molding to the team that Barry wants us to be," defenseman Nick Leddy said following Monday's win. "We're really starting to understand the last couple of games that getting the puck north, making the easy play, getting pucks to the net and playing team defense is a successful way to play."

The victory Monday was the 783rd for Trotz, which moved him past Al Arbour -- the Hall of Fame coach who led the Islanders to four straight Stanley Cups in the early 1980s -- into fourth place on the NHL's career wins list.

Updated January 2, 2019

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