(SportsNetwork.com) - With the distraction of the trade deadline behind them,
the New York Islanders can now focus on finishing the season strong.
The Isles take aim at their first two-game winning streak in well over a month
on Thursday night as they visit the Edmonton Oilers.
New York, aiming for a second straight trip to the playoffs, made a bold move
back in October when it acquired winger Thomas Vanek from the Buffalo Sabres
for forward Matt Moulson and two draft picks, including a first-round pick in
The Islanders, though, have struggled for most of the season and it appeared
as though they were going to be unable to re-sign Vanek before he hit
unrestricted free agency this summer. Those factors all led to New York
trading Vanek on Wednesday to the Montreal Canadiens.
In return, the Isles got prospect Sebastian Collberg and will also get a 2014
second-round pick from the Habs if they make the playoffs. New York would also
send Montreal a fifth-round selection should that happen.
It marked the second trade in as many days for the Islanders, who on Tuesday
shipped defenseman Andrew MacDonald to the Philadelphia Flyers prior to a game
versus the hosting Winnipeg Jets.
Vanek was a healthy scratch for that contest, but New York still managed a 3-2
victory in overtime to win for only the third time in its past 12 games.
Michael Grabner had the winner in overtime, taking a lead pass from Cal
Clutterbuck before racing past two Jets defenders. The speedy forward then
beat Ondrej Pavelec with a forehand shot with 69 seconds left in the bonus
Colin McDonald and Anders Lee each scored in regulation, while Anders Nilsson
made 36 saves in the victory.
New York played most of the contest without forward Eric Boulton, who exited
early with a hand injury.
"I think that most guys know that this time of year is a little difficult, but
I thought we were focused. We were ready to play obviously against a big
strong hockey team that's playing real well," Islanders head coach Jack
Despite winning the opener of a four-game road trip, the Isles are 13 points
back of a playoff spot.
Things haven't gone much better for the Oilers this season. With 50 points on
the campaign, only the Buffalo Sabres (44) have fewer in the NHL.
Edmonton did snap a three-game slide on Tuesday, besting the Ottawa Senators
3-2. Jordan Eberle had the eventual game-winner and Taylor Hall had two
Ben Scrivens, one day after signing a two-year extension with Edmonton, posted
Ales Hemsky scored twice in his final game with the Oilers. The veteran
forward was dealt to the Senators on Wednesday for a fifth-round pick in 2014
and a third-rounder in 2015. The Czech Republic native posted nine goals and
17 assists in 55 games with the Oilers this season.
A first-round selection (13th overall) by the Oilers in 2001, Hemsky has
recorded 142 goals and 335 assists for 477 points in 652 NHL games.
"It's just a mix of feelings," said Hemsky. "It's hard to leave from here
because I've been here for so long and I was comfortable here. I knew the city
and the team and everything. It's the only team I've been playing for so it's
kind of weird. Like I said, I'm ready for the challenge."
Edmonton also traded defenseman Nick Schultz to the Columbus Blue Jets for an
upcoming fifth-round draft pick.
The Oilers lost a 3-2 decision in New York back on Oct. 17 and have dropped
three of the last four meetings.
The Islanders, though, have lost three straight in Edmonton, where they have
not won since March 13, 2003.
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