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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, December 12th (All times Eastern)

New York Islanders (9-18-5) at Phoenix Coyotes (17-8-5), 9 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - After ending an epic 10-game losing streak the last time out, the New York Islanders will try to win consecutive games for the first time since early November when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday.

New York lost 10 straight games (0-8-2) before finally ending its lengthy skid with Tuesday's 3-2 shootout win in San Jose. The comeback victory was the first win for the Islanders since another shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 16.

The Islanders only have managed to win consecutive games on one occasion this season, when they notched victories against Ottawa and Boston on Nov. 1 and 2, respectively.

New York appeared headed to an 11th straight defeat on Tuesday, as it trailed the Sharks 2-0 heading into the third period. However, Thomas Vanek scored just 51 seconds into the third to cut the deficit to one and Kyle Okposo, who also scored the game-winner in the shootout, tied it with 37 seconds left in regulation.

"As bad as we played in the first period, to stick with it all game and go into the third period down 2-0, to get this win was huge," Okposo said.

The win also halted a 10-game road losing streak for New York, which is 4-12-0 as the guest this season. Thursday's tilt marks the end of a five-game trip for the Islanders.

Kevin Poulin made a career-high 46 saves for the Islanders and he is expected to get the start again tonight. The 23-year-old backstop has never faced the Coyotes.

The Isles have a 3-1-1 record in the past five meetings with the Coyotes, but Phoenix has taken three of the last four encounters in the desert.

Phoenix is back home tonight after going 2-1-1 during a four-game road trip. The Coyotes are 9-2-2 on home ice this season compared to an 8-6-3 record as the guest.

The Coyotes won the first and last games of their recent swing and ended the trek with Tuesday's 3-1 triumph at Colorado. Antoine Vermette notched a pair of goals to help Phoenix end a two-game slide and defeat the Avalanche for the fifth time in the last six meetings in Denver.

Jordan Szwarz also tallied and Thomas Greiss stopped 29 shots for the Coyotes.

"We got a couple changes when they couldn't and it paid off in the second period," said Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett. "This was a good balanced game by our guys all around."

Shane Doan missed the last two games of the road trip while battling the flu and the Coyotes captain will sit out Thursday's game as well. Defenseman Derek Morris also will miss a third straight game after leaving the team to attend to a family matter.

Mike Smith expects to be back between the pipes for Phoenix on Thursday. The club's No. 1 netminder is 3-1-0 with a 2.18 goals against average in four career outings against the Islanders.

12/12 10:55:41 ET

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