Preview: Caps host Islanders Tuesday

Ben Raby, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – The Capitals look to cap off a perfect four-game homestand when they entertain the New York Islanders Tuesday at Verizon Center.

The Caps are 3-0 on their latest homestand, with wins over Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Carolina all decided by one goal.

Dale Hunter’s Capitals have won seven straight games in Chinatown and nine of ten overall on home ice. Washington’s 17-5-1 record at home is tops in the Eastern Conference.

“I think anytime you can kind of hold at home and get points at home you want to do it,” said Jeff Halpern. “You want to make it a tough building to play in. I think [Sunday] we probably didn’t deserve to win and were able to get two points anyway. Anytime you can take wins you want them. We’d just like to play a little bit better, especially at home.”

Hunter would not say who will start in goal against the Islanders but it would be hard to argue against starting Tomas Vokoun for a season-high tenth straight game.

Vokoun stopped 43 of 44 shots in Sunday’s 2-1 win against the Hurricanes to improve to 7-2 over his last nine starts with a .940 save percentage and 1.97 goals-against-average.

“I think he’s been of late very consistent and playing well and playing confidently,” said Mike Knuble. “He’s just been solid, and I think that’s been the big thing is you got your goalie that’s just a solid goaltender. He doesn’t need to win the game every night but just be solid and make the saves you’re supposed to make. That’s all you can ask out of your goalie every night.”

Evgeni Nabokov is expected to start in goal for the Islanders. Nabokov became the twenty-sixth goalie in NHL history to win 300 career games after New York’s 4-2 win over Buffalo on Saturday.

THE OPPOSITION:

The Islanders just completed a four-game homestand of their own having gone 2-2-0 after Monday’s 3-1 loss to Nashville. The Predators beat Isles goalie Kevin Poulin on their first two shots of the game marking the ninth time this season that the Islanders have allowed a goal on the first shot of the game.

Former No.1 pick John Tavares played the role of shutout buster when he beat Nashville’s Pekka Rinne with less than four minutes remaining in the third period.

It was the 16th goal of the season for Tavares who is riding a career-best nine-game scoring streak (five goals and 16 points over that span).

Tavares’ nine-game scoring streak is also tied for the second longest in the NHL this season (Boston’s David Krejci entered play Monday with points in 11 straight games).

The 21-year-old Tavares played briefly for Capitals head coach Dale Hunter with the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights in 2009.

In 38 games total (regular season and playoffs combined) with London, Tavares had 42 goals and 71 points.

FAMILIAR FACE RETURNS TO D.C.:

Former Capitals defenseman Milan Jurcina is in his second season patrolling the Islanders blueline and will hit a personal milestone Tuesday at Verizon Center.

Jurcina will skate in his 400th career NHL game, 211 of which were played with the Capitals from 2007-09. The 28-year-old was an eighth round pick (241st overall) by the Boston Bruins in 2001.

AVSWATCH2012:

The Coyotes beat the Avalanche 6-1 Monday in Phoenix as former Capitals forward Boyd Gordon beat ex- teammate Semyon Varlamov twice for his first career two-goal game.

The Avs drop to 24-21-2 and remain on the outside of a playoff position in the Western Conference. Washington owns Colorado’s first round pick in the 2012 entry draft dating back to the trade that sent Varlamov to Denver last July.

Catch the Capitals and Islanders Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Coverage begins with Caps Pregame at 6:45 on Federal News Radio, WFED 1500AM and online www.wfed.com.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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