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Islanders Hockey Blog | Page 5

Written by Christian A. | 01 April 2012

Uniondale, NY --
With the Islanders out of the playoffs and after two ugly loses this weekend, there was no one more disappointed about how things have turned out than all-star John Tavares.

The 21 year old has yet to know what the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are like during his three-year career with the Islanders. His team has finished in the bottom five the past two years and is about to again this year.

“Anytime you don’t reach your goal and gain that opportunity to compete for the cup it leaves a sour taste in your mouth,” Tavares said somberly after the loss to Ottawa. “It makes it real difficult watching it and we didn’t reach it this year, but there’s three games now left. We have to stay together, play hard and play with a lot of pride and do the right things. And try to get better and improve for next year.”

This season may be especially hard for Tavares since he has been having a career year. To date, he has a career high 31 goals along with a team leading 78 points. Not to mention, it was a mere four weeks ago that the Islanders were still very much in the playoff hunt, but saw there postseason dreams fall apart after a four game losing streak.

“You go through a lot of ups and downs through the year,” Tavares added. “You want to finish strong no matter what the circumstances are and who you’re playing against. Whether you’re trying to get better as a player and grow and learn the game… We just want to stick together and play better hockey than we have the last few games.”

Tavares and the Isles finish out their season with games at New Jersey; home against Winnipeg; and out in Columbus.

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Written by Christian A. | 01 April 2012

Uniondale, NY --
The Islanders’ locker room was not a happy place after this afternoon’s 5-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on fan appreciation day. The Isles played bad and they knew it.

“It was pretty horrible on our part,” said captain Mark Streit. “They were missing two of their top players, we didn’t take advantage of it, but the way we played we didn’t deserve to win that’s for sure.”

New York opened the scoring 7:55 into the period as Streit finished on a great pass by John Tavares from behind the net. But the lead disappeared before the first period even ended. Kyle Turris lifted one right over a fallen Al Montoya and Matt Moulson to tie the game at one late in the period.

In the second period things only got worse.

With the Senators on the power play Sergei Gonchar scored off a no look pass from Milan Michalek to make it 2-1. Jack Capuano sent out five defensemen to take the face-off after the goal. A move he said he’s done before and was trying to send a message to guys who weren’t playing up to par.

“You know what our forwards weren’t going,” he said when asked about the move. “There were lines that had one shot, there were lines that didn’t even have a shot or attempted shot. There was no urgency in our game tonight. No excuses, but some guys got to look in the mirror.”

But the move didn’t seem to provide much.

Michalek scored a goal of his own three minutes later to make it 3-1. Nick Foligno added another Senators goal before the second period came to close. The Senators Turris got his second goal of the night to make it 5-1 exactly seven minutes into the third period.

“We played too complicated,” Streit added after the game. "We didn’t get the puck deep, we had way too many turnovers and they kept it simple. They work pretty hard and we just played too complicated… Tonight we just played awful.”

Capuano agreed adding, “We didn’t compete hard enough tonight. We didn’t deserve to win the hockey game. We had some guys that played with no urgency in their game at all.”

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Written by Christian A. | 30 March 2012

Uniondale, NY --
It was a night of first for several Islanders on Thursday night. Marty Reasoner scored his first goal as an Islander, Kyle Okposo hit a career high 20 goals in a season and Josh Bailey had his highest points total in his career. This all coming on the same night the Islanders beat the Penguins, one of the best teams in the NHL, 5-3 at Nassau Coliseum.

It was the second game in less than four days the Isles upset the Pens and helped their New York Rivals, the Rangers, maintain their top spot in the east.

Marty Reasoner opened the scoring at the 11:07; Mark Streit skated behind the net, from the far to near side, and hit Reasoner with pass at the top of the slot. It was his first goal as a New York Islander and the first time he scored since March 8, 2011 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

“I know that he’s waited a while for that,” said head coach Jack Capuano after the game about Reasoner’s goal. “Frans [Nielsen] made a great play, we had some zonetime and he changed at the right time and Marty came right through the slot. The hard work that he’s put in it’s good to see him get one.”

The Penguins tied the game in the second period with the Islanders on the power play. Pascal Dupuis fired a blast past the glove of Montoya to tie the game at one. Kyle Okposo put the Isles back on top eight minutes later when he fired a pass to Nino Niederrieter, who was moving to the net, but had the puck redirected into the net by the skate of Pens’ defensemen Deryk Engelland. Josh Bailey made it 3-1 when he scored on a shorthanded breakaway at 18:36 in the second period.

Kyle Okposo scored his second goal of the night, and 20th of the season, 5:52 into the third period off a feed from Josh Bailey.

The Pens looked to make a comeback; Jordan Staal snuck one past the glove of Montoya at 8:20 and Evgeni Malkin cut the Isles lead to one with 1:31 left in the game.

But Josh Bailey put the kaput on the comeback when he sealed the Isles win with an empty net goal, which was also his fifth point of the night.

“I think as a line we played a really good game and obviously happy to get a couple of points,” Bailey said after the game. “We found a way to get some goals and had a good cycle going there on Marty’s goal.”

Bailey finished the game with two goals and three assist for five points. It was the first time an Islander player has scored five points in one night at the Nassau Coliseum since Niklas Andersson did it back on December 10,1996.

After the game Okposo was happy to have hit 20 goals, but was more complimentary to how the team performed.

“It feels goo to get to 20 goals for the first time,” he told reporters. “I was happy with the way we responded after they had some momentum throughout periods of that game. Obviously Bailey played terrific.”

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Written by Christian A. | 28 March 2012

The Islanders have signed goaltender John Grahame for the remainder of the season to back up Al Montoya. Newsday’s Arthur Staple reported that he should join the team on Friday.

Grahame has not appeared in an NHL game since the 2007-2008 season, when he played in 17 games and had a 3.75 goals against average and a .875 save percentage. Since then he split time between the AHL’s Albany River Rats, KHL’s Omsk Avangard, AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms and the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters.

The 36 year old retired after last season, playing in 34 games for the Monsters, posting a 2.39 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.

Before signing with the Islanders today, he had been the goaltending coach for the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL.

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Written by Christian A. | 28 March 2012

Evgeni Nabokov is day-to-day with a lower body injury according to Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano.

Nabokov left last night’s 5-3 win over the Penguins after falling awkwardly midway through the second period. It looked like a Pens player, who was hovering around the left side of the net, tripped him up.

The fear is that Nabokov may have a groin injury. He suffered one earlier in the season against Montreal on November 17 and missed 11 games.

As for David Ullstrom, who left last night’s game with an upper body injury, he did practice today with the Islanders. But no information was given regarding his health.

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Written by Christian A. | 28 March 2012

Islanders’ propect Mikko Koskinen doesn’t take to being run into kindly. And when Tommi Huhtala did so during a SM-liiga playoff game he gave the Blues player a piece of his mind.

The 23 year old goaltender didn’t last too long before Huhtala sent him to the ice and Koskinen’s teammates came to his aid. You have to love the fight in Koskinen and his willingness to stand up for himself.

Unfortunately, Koskinen received a one-game suspension for the fight, as did Huhtala.

H/T: Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy

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Written by Roberto Scalia | 27 March 2012

With any shot at the playoffs pretty much shot, the New York Islanders are now playing with the role of spoiler and just making the best of what remains of this season. The Pittsburgh Penguins were the victims of this particular night, as the Islanders beat the Pens for the first time in Pittsburgh since December, 2007, and putting a dent in the Penguins’ hopes to obtain first place in the conference over the New York Rangers.

The Islanders would come out flying, and it wouldn’t take them long to get the lead as Dylan Reese would fire a puck off the boards, right onto the stick of Frans Nielsen who shot it right into a practically empty net. The Penguins would buzz throughout the rest of the period, with Evgeni Nabokov having to come up big a couple of times, but it would be the Islanders who would get the next goal. As the period was coming to a close, Frans Nielsen would spring Michael Grabner into the Pittsburgh zone, and Grabner would fire one right past Marc-Andre Fleury and give the Islanders a 2-0 lead into the second period.

The second period started as most would have guessed, the Penguins came out flying and shooting left right and center. A deflection by Tyler Kennedy would cut the lead 2-1, and the game would be tied not too late after that. It’s a commonly known rule that when a defenseman pinches, there needs to be a forward to stay behind to cover for that defenseman, but it seems like the Islanders’ top line forgot that particular rule. As Mark Streit went to pinch to create a 2-on-1, no one stayed back to cover for him leading to a 2-on-1 going the other way with Chris Kunitz and James Neal, which ended in Neal hammering a one timer past Nabokov for 36th of the year.

After surviving the early onslaught, however, the ice seemed to tilt back in the Islanders favor as Kyle Okposo would take advantage of a mistake by Brooks Orpik, and fire a wrister right past Fleury and give the Islanders back their lead. The Islanders weren’t done however, and during a power play, Josh Bailey would make a brilliant play to pass it to a wide open David Ullstrom in front of the net, who made no mistake and shot it home for a PPG. Josh Bailey would do it again less than three minutes later, making a great pass to spring Frans Nielsen on a breakaway, who would deke the puck around a lunging Fleury and easily shoot it into the now empty net.

The Penguins would get one back off yet another one timer by James Neal during a 4 on 3 power play with the goaltender pulled, but it was all too little too late as the Islanders came out with the 5-3 win.

The only negatives of the game came in the third period, when Evgeni Nabokov wasn’t able to return to finish the game, after seemingly aggravating yet again his injured groin. No official word was given other then it was a lower body injury, but looking at the incident leading to the injury, the groin would seem to be a pretty safe bet. David Ullstrom also didn’t play in the third period, suffering from reportedly an upper body injury, and the only thing fans can do is simply hope it isn’t a concussion. Head coach Jack Capuano stated that he doesn’t expect either player to be ready to play in the second part of this home and home series versus the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night at the Nassau Coliseum.

The question now becomes who will back up Al Montoya, the likely starter, on Thursday night? With Nabokov being likely ruled out by Capuano, and Anders Nilsson still recovering from an injury suffered in Bridgeport, the only goaltender remaining is Kevin Poulin. However, calling Poulin up would put a very large dent in any hopes the Sound Tigers have of making the playoffs. One player to possibly keep an eye on is Rick DiPietro, who’s been practicing for over a week now. If he is close to being game ready, the Islanders shouldn’t hesitate to let him back up Montoya on Thursday night, so as to keep Poulin in Bridgeport and keep their playoff hopes alive. Whether it’s Poulin, DiPietro, or even Bridgeport’s backup, it will certainly be very interesting to see how the Islanders decide to deal with this latest goaltending issue.

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