Series (Game 1 of 4)

Toronto leads 3-1

Game 1: Friday, December 23rd
Maple Leafs5Final
Game 2: Monday, January 23rd
Maple Leafs3
Game 3: Tuesday, January 24th
Maple Leafs4Final
Game 4: Tuesday, March 20th
Maple Leafs2

Maple Leafs 5

(18-13-4, 40 pts)

Islanders 3

(11-16-6, 28 pts)

Coverage: TSN

7:00 PM ET, December 23, 2011

Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York

1 2 3 T
TOR 3 1 15
NYI 1 1 13

C. MacArthur (Maple Leafs - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

J. Tavares (Islanders - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

T. Connolly (Maple Leafs - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

Maple Leafs-Islanders Preview


As the lowest-scoring team in the league, it's not hard to see where the New York Islanders need the most improvement.

Their overall play at home is also in need of a major upgrade.

The Islanders look to win at Nassau Coliseum for only the second time in eight games Friday night when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first time this season.

Because last season's team fell one goal shy of having three 30-goal scorers and ranked 15th in the NHL in scoring, offense didn't figure to be a big problem for the Islanders this year. Nearly three months into 2011-12, though, they rank last in the NHL with 74 goals and have gotten shut out an NHL-high six times -- five at home.

Those offensive woes continued Thursday at Madison Square Garden as the Islanders (11-15-6) scored three goals or fewer for the seventh consecutive game in a 4-2 loss to the Rangers.

P.A. Parenteau and Matt Moulson scored on the power play for the Isles, who failed to match a season high with their third straight win following shootout victories at Minnesota and Winnipeg.

"We fought back, our power play was working and we did a lot of good things but we have to try to find a way to score some more goals," coach Jack Capuano told the Islanders' official website.

One of the biggest culprits in the team's offensive malaise is top center John Tavares, who is tied for the team lead with 27 points but has only two goals in his last 21 games.

Even with Thursday's loss, the Islanders are 5-2-1 in their last eight road games, but are 1-4-2 in their past seven at home. New York's six home wins are tied for second-fewest in the league, ahead of only Montreal.

The Islanders have fared very well at home against the Maple Leafs (17-13-4) lately, going 8-2-2 in matchups on Long Island since the start of 2005-06.

With rookie Anders Nilsson serving as New York's backup, Evgeni Nabokov is likely to start on back-to-back nights after stopping 21 shots versus the Rangers.

"I wasn't as crisp as I wanted to be, but not bad," Nabokov said. "Every little detail is important because we are fighting for the playoffs and we can't afford to lose too many games."

Nabokov is 3-0-0 with one tie and a 2.21 goals-against average lifetime against Toronto.

The Maple Leafs ended a three-game skid with a 3-2 home victory over Buffalo on Thursday. Nazem Kadri snapped a third-period tie with his first goal of the season the day after he was called up from the minors, and James Reimer made 40 saves for the second straight game.

"We've got to take the good out of (Thursday) and move forward and try to finish on a good note before the break," Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said.

Phil Kessel moved into a tie for the league lead with his 20th goal -- the fourth consecutive season he's reached that total.

Though he's been plenty busy lately, Reimer could also make his second start in as many nights. He is 2-0-1 with a 2.61 GAA in three starts against the Islanders.

Poor penalty killing is one reason for the Leafs' 3-5-2 stretch. They have allowed 14 power-play goals during that 10-game span, but those struggles might not be as big a concern against the punchless Islanders, who are 4 for 33 with the man advantage over their last eight home contests.