After a dismal start to the season, the New York Islanders are on one of their best runs in nearly two years. A matchup with a team they dominated just a few days ago could help them continue that strong play.
New York looks to win its fifth straight Wednesday night when it visits the Buffalo Sabres, who were routed at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday.
The Islanders began 2009-10 with nine losses in 10 games (1-4-5) before turning things around. They have won four in a row, outscoring opponents 15-5, and can win five straight for the first time since a six-game run from Feb. 12-21, 2008.
This is the second time since that stretch that New York (5-4-5) has won four in a row, also accomplishing the feat Jan. 21-Feb. 3.
"It's easier when you're winning, but we want to remind ourselves that we can't get away from what made us successful -- it's hard work," defenseman Brendan Witt said after scoring twice in Monday's 3-1 win over Edmonton.
Witt, in his 14th NHL season, has scored 25 goals in his career and had gone 92 games since netting one Jan. 22, 2008, at Carolina.
He didn't register a point against Buffalo (8-2-1) on Saturday, when the Islanders posted their first shutout and set a season high in goals with five behind Jeff Tambellini's hat trick.
"We've had our chances and scoring hasn't come easy for us," coach Scott Gordon said after that win. "I'm encouraged that every night it's been a different line that's made the difference."
On Monday, 19-year-old rookie John Tavares scored his fifth goal and 38-year-old captain Doug Weight added two assists.
"The guys have been on the same page now for a little bit and we're starting to see some results," forward Kyle Okposo said. "I don't think that we've changed a ton of how we've played, but I think that the team has a lot of confidence."
Saturday's loss snapped a four-game win streak for Buffalo, which was shut out for the first time and allowed a season high in goals.
Ryan Miller entered with an 8-0-1 record and a 1.64 goals-against average before being pulled by coach Lindy Ruff after the Islanders built a 3-0 lead in the second period.
"It'd be nice to win 82 games, but we know that's not going to happen," center Derek Roy said. "There's going to be some bumps in the road and we got to go right off the bat."
Roy has struggled early. The sixth-year player has yet to score after averaging nearly 25 goals in the past four seasons.
"They'll come. I just gotta battle through this, keep working hard," he said. "We're winning games so it's not a bad thing."
The Sabres now return home, where they are 4-1-1 and beat New York 6-3 on Oct. 16 for their seventh win in nine meetings with the Islanders at HSBC Arena since the start of the 2005-06 season.