The Islanders made their first visit to Ottawa this season and were able to battle all game and come away with an important victory to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The game started slow with both teams going up and down the ice with not many chances generated. Nabokov was called on early in the period but the defense did a good job making sure most shot were from the outside and easily visible. The Islanders got a power play chance at 10:26 when former Islander Zenon Konopka took a hooking penalty. The first power play unit of Tavares, Moulson, Parenteau, Nielsen and Streit was very good creating several chances but unable to put them away. The second power play unit had some trouble but I like the group Capuano put together, the line was Rakhshani, Bailey, Neiderreiter, Okposo and MacDonald. The Islanders were unable to connect on the first power play but still kept the pressure up. It was a strong first period for the Islanders who outshot the Senators 14 to 8.
The Islanders look to build off their win from earlier in the week and start a second half playoff push with a game against Ottawa tomorrow night. The Islanders are currently riding a hot streak getting 5 out of a possible 6 points in the last 3 games. This has the Islanders only 9 points out of playoff spot with plenty of time left in the season.
A couple of the sparks in the Islanders last win were the Bridgeport call ups of Kevin Poulin and Rhett Rakhshani. Poulin made his contribution playing a great game between the pipes, which showed many fans why he is considered the goaltender of the future. Rakhshani was a great move in my eyes as he was a spark plug on a line with Matt Martin and Josh Bailey. The whole game the line was buzzing around the ice and creating chances. Hopefully they will get another chance in Ottawa to keep showing that they are improving their chances and create more secondary scoring which is what this team needs.
How many goaltenders will we see in an Isles uniform by the end of the season? That was a question that a few of my readers asked me before the start of the year. Last year the Islanders featured Dwayne Roloson, Rick DiPietro, Kevin Poulin, Mikko Koskinen, Al Montoya and Nathan Lawson. And oh yeah, they also tried to claim Evgeni Nabokov off waivers to only say, "No thanks" before joining the roster this year.
That's a total of six goalies (with a 7th one that rang off the post) that dressed for the New York Islanders in 2011. The count now is at five for this year between DiPietro, Montoya, Nabokov, Poulin and Anders Nilsson, who earned his first NHL start against the Pittsburgh Penguins the day that Sidney Crosby returned to action.
Koskinen has been playing for KalPa in the Finnish Elite League as John Link explains to us in his latest prospect report since there has been a crowd in the crease for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Both Poulin and Nilsson had been playing so well that there was simply not enough room for Koskinen, choosing him to opt for overseas play.
The Islanders take to the ice tonight looking to respond after a tough lost last night to the Maple Leafs. Tonight will be the Islanders last chance to head into the All-Star break on a winning note. The Islanders and Maple Leafs also both look to keep playoff hopes alive with wins in tonight’s contest.
The Islanders are still only 9 points out of a playoff spot and after going out and laying a goose egg last night they need to play much better in tonight’s game. Capuano suggested that after last night’s game there could be some line-up changes. Those should be released later this morning but the only change I would truly like to see is the promotion of Nino Niederreitier and the demotion of Brian Rolston. In recent games we have all seen the improvement of play from Nino and he deserves more ice time and better line mates. In the case of Rolston, he just hasn’t played well recently and may need a demotion to find the fire he once had in his play. He is constantly missing the net on many great chances and is the cause of some turnovers. On a team that is struggling to find secondary scoring, mistakes from a veteran like that can’t happen.
Islanders get a huge victory over the streaking Capitals tonight, winning 3-0. The Islanders came into the game looking to rebound from a bad game yesterday against Nashville and rebound is definitely what they did. The Capitals who have been hot of late looked like a tall test for the tired Islanders who played yesterday and had to travel to get to Washington.
The game started slow as neither team could keep possession of the puck in the offensive zone. One play that stood out to me during the early going of the period was Nabokov’s handling of the puck. He came out to handle the puck in front of the net, mishandled it and left a great chance for the Capitals. Thankfully for the Islanders they were unable to get a good shot on net and Nabokov was able to recover. Nabokov needs to work on his puck handling as it has become a problem as of late and has cost the Islanders goals at certain points.
The New York Islanders, at least, will have a quick turnaround after one of their worst performance’s of the season. After a dismal 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators, the
Islanders travel to the nation’s capital to play the red hot Washington Capitals.
Washington, winners of seven straight at the Verizon Center, come into the contest off a 2-1 home victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. They haven’t trailed in a game at home since December 13th. In 22 games since Bruce Boudreau was replaced by Dale Hunter, the Capitals have gone 12-9-1 playing themselves into a 1st place tie with the Florida Panthers in the Southeast Division.
The Islanders play host to the Nashville Predators this afternoon and it is always nice to see a team from the West at the old barn.
Although coach Capuano has not confirmed who his starting goaltender will be, I have got to assume Kevin Poulin will be between the pipes. Nabokov has played in 11 straight games and obtained his 300th career victory on Saturday vs. Buffalo. There is no reason not to start Poulin. The only action he's seen as of late is during the pregame warm up.
Buffalo makes it first visit to Long Island tonight as they take on the Islanders. With both teams currently needing a win to keep their playoff chances alive this game looks to be a good one. The Islanders, with Thursday’s lost to the Flyers find themselves 12 points back and Buffalo a lot closer with 5 points out of a playoff spot. This is only the second meeting of four between these two with the Islanders winning the first one 2-1 in Buffalo on November 29th. Buffalo is currently struggling on the road with a seven game losing streak in regulation which should hopefully work in the Isles favor for this one.
After a hard fought effort in Thursday’s game I don’t expect to see line changes for tonight’s affair. The only change in the lineup that I can see would hopefully be to give Kevin Poulin a start and rest Evgeni Nabokov. Nabokov has played 10 games in a row now and I know his next win will be his 300th but Poulin was extremely hot in Bridgeport before his call-up and Nabokov did look like he needed a mental break during the game against the Flyers. Secondary scoring needs to start showing its face on the Islanders team if they truly want to start winning a serious amount of games. Moulson and Tavares are great players together and put the puck in the need often but they can’t be counted on to do all of the scoring for this team. The line of Martin, Bailey, and Grabner has had its flashes during the past few games and is creating chances; they just need to start finding the back of the net on a few more of those chances. The 2nd line of Rolston, Neilsen, and Parentau has been doing ok but just doesn’t seem all there, if any line was to get a shake-up this would be it. I would like to see the young Nino finally get some big line minutes to show us something and have him work with Frans and PA. I don’t see that happening for this game but it would be a good change for the future that should hopefully produce some goals. The defense for the Islanders has been good over the past few days and hopefully they can keep that up against the Sabres.