The New York Islanders will attempt to bolster their bid for a playoff spot and deliver a blow to the flickering hopes of the Washington Capitals on Wednesday when the teams meet in the nation's capital.
The Islanders (38-28-9, 85 points) enter the opener of their three-game road trip having wonseven of their last 11 games (7-3-1). While they hold the top wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, the Capitals (34-32-8, 76 points), in turn, have lost four of their last five games (1-3-1) to find themselves in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013-14.
Kyle Palmieri collected two goals and an assist to help New York snap a two-game winless skid with 5-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Monday.
"Obviously we didn't like the results Friday (and) Saturday," Palmieri said, referring to the Islanders' 5-4 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets and a 2-0 setback to the Buffalo Sabres. "We left some points on the table. And we know going into this week it's six, seven games left; it's make or break the rest of the way."
Palmieri has been doing his part by recording five goals and as many assists in his last six games.
"He's injected an element of offense into our group," New York coach Lane Lambert said. "He's doing the same thing that he's been doing since he came back (from injury) he's just getting rewarded for it."
Like Palmieri, Zach Parise has five goals in his last six games.
The Capitals didn't do themselves any favors on Saturday by dropping a 4-3 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who hold the second wild-card spot in the East. Washington overcame a three-goal deficit with three tallies in the third period, only to see a defensive gaffe lead to Evgeni Malkin putting Pittsburgh ahead with 1:20 to play.
"We still have a couple games against the Islanders. There's not going to be any quit here," Capitals forward Tom Wilson said. "I think that's kind of been our mentality for the last month or so. We're just trying to work as hard as we can and see what happens. Doesn't change now.
"Obviously, that was a big game, but we'll move past it. We have to get ready for playing for our lives. Every point matters."
Wilson scored on Saturday to boost his point total to five (one goal, four assists) in his last four games. He also scored a goal in Washington's 4-3 overtime win over New York on Jan. 16.
Capitals superstar and captain Alex Ovechkin scored on Saturday to extend his goal streak to four games and point streak to seven games (six goals, five assists). The three-time Hart Trophy recipient notched an assist in the first meeting with the Islanders and again in a 5-1 victory over New York on March 11.
Darcy Kuemper turned aside 44 of 48 shots to pick up the win in both encounters. He is 4-4-1 with a 2.84 goals-against average and .898 save percentage versus the Islanders.
--Field Level Media