The Maple Leafs are playing the Islanders at a perfect time. They need just three wins to have their most successful December campaign (10 wins) in the last decade and the Islanders have lost four of their last five contests.
While things seem to be quickly falling apart on Long Island, the Maple Leafs earned three points at home against Boston (2-0 win) and Buffalo (3-2 OT loss).
"Guys have sacrificed themselves," Mike Komisarek said, "blocking shots, getting pucks out. They've been working hard. As much as we're getting prepared for our opponents, it's about what we need to do and how we play."
Tonight will be the third time the Leafs and Islanders have battled this season. On Nov. 23, Dwayne Roloson had a career-best 58-save game and the Islanders won 4-3 in OT and on Dec. 9, the Leafs won, 3-2.
Jonas Gustavsson, who is 1-0-1 and has allowed just three goals after returning from a heart procedure, will get the start in net for the Leafs tonight. After earning his first career shutout against Boston on Dec. 19 and sporting a 7-5-6 record in 19 appearances this season, he seems to be the main man for Ron Wilson of late.
Though Wilson was unavailable for comment after the team's morning skate at Nassau Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, you can be sure he's hoping Gustavsson helps the Leafs continue in their winning ways.
Viktor Stalberg, who injured his shoulder in a third-period collision against Buffalo Dec. 21, did not make the trip to Long Island. Rickard Wallin took his spot on the roster.
Islanders taking a dive
After a promising start, mixed with positive hype surrounding John Tavares, the Islanders looked to be headed in the right direction. Think again. They've allowed 18 goals on the opposition's last 40 power-play chances.
Rick DiPietro practiced with the team today and faced three-on-three situations. The team has not set a timetable on when he will play in an NHL game this season. His last NHL win was against the Leafs on Dec. 26, 2008.
Home sweet home for Komisarek
Though certainly not the first time Mike Komisarek has played on his native Long Island since being in the NHL, it's still a great treat to play in front of his family and friends at home.
"It's always fun," said Komisarek, who was born in West Islip, N.Y., "but it's a business trip and we want two points. We want to feel good about ourselves over Christmas break."
Grabovski named to Belarus Olympic team
Early this morning Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski was named to the Belarus Olympic team.
"It's always been a dream to play in the Olympics," he said. "I'm happy I'm representing my country. I've been waiting for this chance."
He is one of four NHL players to make the team and has represented Belarus in the last three World Championships where he has picked up a total of 21 points in 19 games, according to the Maple Leafs.