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GAME: New York Islanders (30-26-10-4) at Anaheim Mighty Ducks (25-28-9-8).
TIME: Friday, 10:30 p.m. EST.
The New York Islanders better learn how to win on the road, and quickly.
Winless in their last six overall (0-3-1-2) and losing their grip on the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders continue a five-game road trip against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
The Islanders, who have won just nine of 35 road games this season, are coming off a brutal 5-4 loss in San Jose on Thursday. New York's lead over Buffalo has dropped to four points in the race for eighth place in the conference. The Sabres earned one point with a 3-2 overtime loss to Boston on Thursday. Each team has 12 games remaining.
The Islanders did some good things offensively Thursday - like outshooting the Sharks 41-28 - but were horrendous in their own end, giving the puck away on several occasions and allowing some questionable goals.
Coach Steve Stirling can't decide whether to blame the defense or the goaltending for his club's slump.
"It was both," he said. "Goaltending had to be better, and it wasn't tonight - and we made a couple of glaring mistakes. There were a lot of risk-reward situations, and at times, the risks did not outweigh the reward."
Captain Michael Peca was even more to the point.
"You can't give up five goals on the road and expect to win hockey games," Peca said. "It's just not going to happen, and as a result, we got what we deserved."
Cliff Ronning scored two goals and Peca and Arron Asham also scored for New York, which has won just one of its last nine overall (1-4-2-2).
Anaheim is barely alive in the playoff race in the Western Conference. Sitting in 11th place, the Mighty Ducks are 10 points out of the eighth and final spot with 12 games remaining.
The Ducks have dropped back-to-back games, including a 5-2 loss to Montreal on Monday.
Rob Niedermayer and Petr Sykora scored for Anaheim, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 19 saves in his 200th game with the Ducks. Leading scorer Sergei Fedorov was scratched because of the flu, and Mike Leclerc missed his fifth straight game because of a sore left knee.
The Ducks, who didn't make any deals at the trade deadline, are 9-5-1-1 over their last 16 games, including an 8-5-1-1 mark since the All-Star break.
STANDINGS: Islanders - 74 points, 3rd place, 17 PB, Atlantic Division. Mighty Ducks - 67 points, 4th place, 18 PB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Islanders - Trent Hunter and Mariusz Czerkawski, 23 goals; Oleg Kvasha, 31 assists; Hunter, 46 points; Eric Cairns, 177 PIM. Mighty Ducks - Fedorov, 24 goals, 31 assists and 55 points; Garrett Burnett, 134 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 10): Islanders - Power play: 16.8 percent (45 for 270), 10th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.4 percent (254 for 302), 16th. Mighty Ducks - Power play: 16.4 percent (45 for 270), 12th. Penalty killing: 84.5 percent (250 for 296), 13th.
GOALTENDERS: Islanders - Rick DiPietro (16-16-5, 3 SO, 2.49 GAA); Garth Snow (14-14-5, 1, 2.76). Mighty Ducks - Giguere (15-27-5, 3, 2.59); Martin Gerber (10-9-4, 2, 2.28).
SEASON SERIES: Islanders, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 1; Islanders, 4-1. At Nassau Coliseum, Alexei Yashin, Jason Blake and Kvasha each scored in the first period as the Islanders had a 3-0 lead after taking just five shots.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Islanders - 9-16-7-3 on the road; Mighty Ducks - 17-8-6-4 at home.
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