Gameday Preview: New York Islanders @ Dallas Stars (5:00pm CST)

Bruce Bennett

The Islanders are back for more after a 7-3 shellacking of Dallas last week.

The New York Islanders punched the Dallas Stars in the gut last week, pouring seven in on Kari Lehtonen to make 18 goals against in three games. The conversation turned to turnovers and defensive errors among forwards and defensemen alike.

Since then the Stars have limited the New Jersey Devils to a single tally, and the New York Rangers to just two through nearly 60 minutes before Rick Nash was allowed the space to deliver another dagger.

So it's certainly been better on that side of the ice. Now the problem is on the other side of the ice where the Stars have scored just six times in their last 240 minutes of hockey.

Lindy Ruff liked their effort at Madison Square Garden Friday night, but said they just didn't get the breaks.

"If you are going good, you win that game," he opined. "That's just the way it is. It's no different than when we were going good before Christmas or just after. That opportunity went in the net for us, now it goes in for the opposition."

The coaching staff seems to be staying positive about the recent efforts while acknowledging the disaster that was against these same Islanders.

"We had a couple games with real low energy where we beat ourselves. We made big mistakes. Typically, when the legs aren't going the heads aren't far behind. We made some big mistakes in those games that cost us."

Meanwhile the line shuffling will apparently continue. Lines on Saturday's practice were these:

Benn-Seguin-Cole
Roussel-Eakin-Garbutt
Whitney-Fiddler-Peverley
Nichushkin/Jeffrey-Horcoff-Alex Chiasson

Chiasson and Nichushkin have had their highs this season, but this could be an indication that the coaching staff feels they're both in a bit of a struggle right now. It could be a competition to see who gets to move up later in the game if the team is in search of offense. Nichushkin often starts away from Benn and Seguin, as we know, and then winds up there.

The Stars got two from that Eakin trio Friday night. The Stars need production from those other lines badly as teams focus in on stopping Seguin's group.

We cautioned you about the Islanders before Monday night's game, citing their recent record and puck possession stats. Today we do the same, if for nothing else than the memory of a 7-3 shellacking administered largely by John Tavares.

While the Stars' losing streak reached five the Islander's stretch of good fortune reached 9-4-2 in their last 15 games, including a 6-1 mark in their last seven.

After beating Dallas 7-3 at home they've also bested Toronto (5-3) and Colorado (2-1 in OT) to pull within eight points of a playoff spot in the East.

Their power play remains deadly having gone four-of-eight on New Years Eve and three-of-five against Dallas last week, not to mention power play goals against Toronto and Carolina in recent days.

Their lineup, as you'll recall:

Vanek-Tavares-Okposo
Bailey-Nielsen-Nelson
Grabner-Strome-Clutterbuck
Martin-Cizikas-McDonald

Strait-MacDonald
de Haan-Hamonic
Donovan-Hickey

Poulin

Evgeni Nabokov suffered a quad injury against Dallas and remains on injured reserve, but is on the trip and working out. Kyle Okposo missed the game against Dallas on Monday for the birth of his first child but has been back in the lineup since and offers another wrinkle for the Seguin and Benn to deal with.

Puck drop is just after 5:00pm CST this afternoon on Fox Sports Southwest.

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