Battling for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, the New York Islanders hope their season-long struggles at home are behind them.
They certainly haven't had much trouble beating the Tampa Bay Lightning there in recent years.
The Islanders go for a season-best third straight home victory and fifth in a row over the Lightning as they try to help their standing in the postseason race Saturday night.
After playing five of six on the road, New York (18-16-4) begins a stretch in which it plays four of five in Uniondale before closing the regular season with a five-game road trip.
The Islanders have one of the NHL's worst home records at 7-11-0, but they've won their last two games at Nassau Coliseum and will equal their longest home winning streak of the past three seasons with a victory Saturday.
New York, which hasn't been to the postseason since 2007, has won five of seven overall to move into playoff position in the East but only one point ahead of ninth place. The Islanders picked up a point for the sixth time in seven games with a 2-1 shootout loss at Washington on Thursday.
"We'll take the point," coach Jack Capuano said. "It's on the road, tough building to play in against a real good hockey team. So, yeah, we'd like to get the two, but one is better than none."
The Islanders have gotten plenty of points lately when hosting Tampa Bay, winning nine of 11 at home in the series and the last four by a 16-6 score. They led by four goals in the third period of the only meeting in Uniondale this season and held on for a 4-3 victory Jan. 21.
New York, which also won 2-0 at Tampa on March 14, now looks to sweep this season series for the first time since 2001-02.
The Lightning (16-18-2), however, have put together a recent run of their own, going 3-0-1 to move within four points of the Southeast Division lead. They have a key matchup against first-place Washington on Sunday.
A day after he was acquired from Ottawa, Ben Bishop made a sparkling debut with 45 saves in Tampa Bay's 5-0 victory over Carolina on Thursday.
"It's big for the team - there's no individuals here," Bishop said. "We're chasing a playoff spot and really just wanted to get off to the right foot and do that with a win."
Bishop started at Nassau Coliseum on March 19 and made 26 saves in the Senators' 5-3 victory. He lost his only other game against the Islanders in 2011.
Steven Stamkos has 10 goals and eight assists in his last 13 games against the Islanders. He had two assists Thursday for his third multipoint effort in four games.
While Stamkos tops the NHL with 25 goals, New York's John Tavares is close behind with 23 but went pointless Thursday and failed to score in the shootout. He had nine goals in his previous 13 games.
Tavares has six goals and nine assists in his last 11 games in this series - the Islanders have won eight.
Evgeni Nabokov could get the start for New York after going 4-1-1 with a 1.47 GAA over his last six starts. Nabokov needed 18 saves to blank the Lightning last month.
The Associated Press News Service
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