Head coach Barry Trotz likes that the New York Islanders have gotten a preview of life in the playoffs the last several days. Good thing, because another postseason-type game awaits Trotz and the Islanders on Friday night.
The Islanders will follow up their most raucous victory of the season by trying to maintain sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division when they host the Washington Capitals.
Both teams are coming off lopsided wins. The Islanders will be completing an eventful back-to-back set at Nassau Coliseum after routing the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1 Thursday night. The Capitals were off a second straight night after cruising past the visiting Ottawa Senators, 7-2, on Tuesday.
The Islanders' win snapped a tie with the Capitals atop the Metropolitan Division. But that might have been secondary to a sellout crowd of 13,917, which reveled in the domination of the Maple Leafs in John Tavares' first game against his former team since he signed with Toronto as a free agent last July.
Tavares, who spent nine seasons with the Islanders and served as team captain the final five years, was booed mercilessly and the target of often-profane chants from the moment he hit the ice during warmups Thursday night.
The charged environment seemed to invigorate the Islanders, who lost three of their previous four games before busting out for their biggest offensive outburst since a 6-3 win over the Senators on Dec. 28. Trotz said he expects a similar feeling Friday against the Capitals, whom he coached to the Stanley Cup title last season before joining New York.
"These type of games during the grind of a season are actually great to have because they have a very emotional aspect to (them)," Trotz said afterward. "(Friday) night, Washington, they're here, they want first place. They're a helluva hockey team. They've got all the pieces. Obviously, they're the defending champs. So (Friday) night we've got to bring our 'A' game. It's another important game. We need the points." >> Read More
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