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New York Islanders look to regroup for late season playoff push

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The New York Islanders get to regroup and reenergize during the Olympic break in hopes of making a late playoff push when play resumes for the team on Feb. 27 against the Toronto Maple Leafs at home in New York.

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After a solid, 1-0 shutout Feb. 4 against the Washington Capitals and the NHL’s goal-scoring leader Alex Ovechkin, the Islanders dropped two straight heading into the break. They lost 4-2 against the Flames and 5-2 against the Avalanche after nearly tying it up late against the Avalanche. Both games were at home where the team has won just eight games.

On Saturday, down by two goals, John Tavares and Lubomir Visnovsky scored in the third period to get the team within one goal until Gabriel Landeskog scored an empty-netter to seal the victory for the Avalanche.

While most of the team gets to enjoy time off during the Olympic break, there are three Islanders competing in Sochi, Russia. Captain John Tavares will play for Team Canada and Thomas Vanek and Michael Grabner will play for Austria.

Tavares, who has the third most points in the NHL (66) joins Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby (league leader in points at 78) and Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks. Getzlaf sits one point ahead of Tavares on the points leaderboard.

Crosby is expected to center the first line for the team, with Getzlaf the third line center and Tavares the fourth line center, according to TSN. Jonathan Toews has been practicing as the second line center, according to TSN. The article notes that Jamie Benn (left wing) and Patrice Bergeron (right wing) have been practicing on Tavares’ line.

The men's Olympic hockey games begin today at noon. Team Canada and Team USA begin playing tomorrow. Team Canada is a favorite to win a gold medal again.

The Islanders will need to make up much ground once play resumes later this month. The team currently sits third from the bottom in the standings and is a long way from a playoff spot with just 22 games left on the season.

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