The New York Islanders return to their second “home” Tuesday night for the first time since April 28, when they fell to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in Brooklyn.
While Barclays Center is difficult to access and an unpopular destination for fans, the Islanders appear to be doing their best to make playoff hockey in Brooklyn a thing again next spring.
The Islanders will look to extend one of the longest winning streaks in franchise history when they host the Ottawa Senators.
The Islanders earned their ninth straight win Saturday, edging the host Buffalo Sabres 1-0. The Senators are playing the second game of a back-to-back road set on Tuesday after cruising past the New York Rangers 6-2 on Monday night.
The winning streak is the longest for the Islanders since a nine-game run from Dec. 31, 1989, through Jan. 19, 1990. A victory Tuesday would give New York the second-longest winning streak in franchise history, behind only a 15-game streak from Jan. 21-Feb. 20, 1982.
Eight of the nine wins have been by two goals or fewer.
“We’ve had guys up and down the lineup show up,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said Monday. “We’ve gotten contributions from everybody, and it’s been a full team effort the whole time.”
The Islanders hope Barclays Center is as hospitable as their preferred home, Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., where they are 5-0-0 during the winning streak and 6-2-0 this season.
Tuesday’s game is the first of 13 in Brooklyn this season for the Islanders, who are in the second season of a three-season span in which they are splitting home games while waiting for a new arena to be built in Elmont, N.Y.
When the Islanders reached the playoffs last season, they played first-round home games against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Coliseum before heading to Barclays for the remainder of the playoffs. New York was swept by the Hurricanes.
The rebuilding Senators — who are tied for last in the NHL with nine points — aren’t likely to factor into the playoff race this season, but the win over the Rangers could serve as a building block. Ottawa scored five unanswered goals after falling behind 1-0.
The Senators didn’t score more than five goals in any of their first 12 games and entered Monday 0-4-1 while being outscored 20-10 in five road games.
“We’re down one on the road for a team that doesn’t score a lot,” Senators head coach D.J. Smith said afterward the victory at Madison Square Garden. “We’ve thought we’ve had some really good efforts on the road. We just haven’t come up with anything.”
Thomas Greiss is expected to start in net Tuedsay for the Islanders, who have employed a true timeshare between Greiss and Semyon Varlamov, the latter of whom has started every odd-numbered game since opening night. Greiss last played Friday, when he made 33 saves as the Islanders beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.
Anders Nilsson started and earned the win Monday for the Senators, stopping 32 shots, so Craig Anderson should draw the start Tuesday. Anderson last played Saturday, when he recorded 27 saves and took the loss as Ottawa fell 5-2 to the Boston Bruins.
–Field Level Media