Islanders set to visit Wild

Updated: December 29, 2013

( – The New York Islanders were unable to halt their home
losing streak without forward John Tavares in the lineup.

The Islanders may be without their captain again on Sunday night when they hit
the road to take on the Minnesota Wild.

Tavares saw his streak of 246 consecutive games played end on Saturday night
due to a lower-body injury that held him out of practice on Friday and leaves
him day-to-day.

The 23-year-old top overall pick of the 2009 draft had not missed a contest
since suffering a concussion in the opener of the 2010-11 season and sitting
out three in a row. Tavares leads the Islanders this season with 13 goals and
26 assists.

Minus their top scorer, the Isles were bested 2-1 by the New Jersey Devils.
Frans Nielsen had the goal and Evgeni Nabokov yielded two on 25 shots, the
winner deflecting off a Devils player.

“They’re a very patient team, they’re a good hockey team,” noted New York
forward Kyle Okposo said of the Devils. “They’re very structured and they got
a lucky bounce there at the end.”

The setback sent the Islanders to their fifth loss in seven games overall and
dropped them to 0-4-4 in their last eight at home.

Okposo notched an assist on Nielsen’s goal, giving the duo five points each on
their respective five-game point streaks. Nielsen has three goals over his

The Wild have also lost a top player to injury with Zach Parise landing on
injured reserve Saturday. Parise had been playing on a badly bruised foot
since Nov. 25 and has missed Minnesota’s last two games.

The 29-year-old winger has racked up 15 goals and 12 assists in 37 games this

While the Isles have struggled at home, the Wild are a dominant 14-3-2 as the
hosting club this season. However, Minnesota dropped to 6-12-3 as the visiting
team with Friday’s 6-4 loss in Winnipeg.

Mikko Koivu, Justin Fontaine, Dany Heatley and Stephane Veilleux provided the
scoring for the Wild. Niklas Backstrom allowed five goals on 37 shots in
Minnesota’s fourth straight loss that matches a season high.

“Backstrom gave us a chance to win that game,” Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo
said. “I’m not going to say that he didn’t play well.”

The Islanders have won their past three games versus the Wild and snapped a
three-game slide in Minnesota with a 2-1 shootout road victory in the most
recent meeting on Dec. 17, 2011.