UNIONDALE (AP) – Both the New York Islanders and the Tampa Bay Lightning are mired in losing streaks, and they ran into even more adversity this week.
The Islanders play their first game since changing coaches and the Lightning face their first since learning of Vincent Lecavalier’s extended absence Wednesday night in a matchup of teams hoping to spark a turnaround.
New York fired Scott Gordon on Monday, one day after losing its 10th straight with a 5-1 defeat to Los Angeles. The Islanders (4-10-3) have scored two or fewer goals in their last eight and sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 11 points.
“When we’re in a situation we’re in right now – we’ve lost 10 games in a row – sometimes you have to go with your gut and make decisions that are tough,” general manager Garth Snow said.
Jack Capuano will make his NHL coaching debut in place of Gordon, taking over on an interim basis after guiding the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
“It’s not the ideal situation,” Capuano said after practice Monday. “I have great respect for Scott. We’ve been friends for a long time and I’ve learned a great deal from him. But there was a change, and I’ll make the best of my opportunity.”
Captain Doug Weight says he welcomes a fresh start for New York, which is playing at home for only the second time in its past eight.
“(Capuano) is coming in here with a great mindset,” Weight told the team’s official website. “It’s a new start. It’s a fresh beginning for all of the guys on the team. It’s up to us to take advantage of this opportunity to play and have this fresh feeling. We are starting new and hopefully Wednesday begins with a win.”
Tampa Bay is dealing with a different sort of feeling after losing Lecavalier to a broken right hand Thursday. The star center had successful surgery Monday, and the team announced its captain was expected to miss four to five weeks.
The Lightning (8-7-2) have lost both games without Lecavalier, including Sunday’s 4-1 defeat in Minnesota despite outshooting the Wild 38-18.
Tampa Bay has lost three straight and six of seven, getting held to 13 goals. The Lightning have scored one in each of the past two.
“We’re in a cloud right now,” coach Guy Boucher said. “The opportunities are there. We’ll get through it.”
Steven Stamkos has his four-game goal streak snapped against the Wild but notched an assist on Martin St. Louis’ first-period goal. Stamkos is tied with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby atop the scoring race with 28 points, recording at least one in 15 of 17 games.
“Again, one of those games where we double the shots of the other team and can’t get (more than one) goal,” Stamkos said.
The Islanders’ last victory before their losing streak came Oct. 21 against the Lightning, winning 3-2 at Tampa Bay in the teams’ only meeting this season. Matt Moulson scored 1:56 into overtime after P.A. Parenteau tied the game at 2 midway through the third period.
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