Goalie Kevin Poulin sharp as Isles end four-game skid

Kevin Poulin of the Islanders looks on in Kevin Poulin of the Islanders looks on in the second period against the Nashville Predators at Nassau Coliseum. (Nov. 12, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Whether Kevin Poulin is the Islanders' thumb-in-the-dike answer for the sometimes rising tide of opponents' scoring hardly is clear.

But Tuesday night, the 23-year-old goalie backed up his recent solid starts with a 32-save performance that had Nassau Coliseum fans chanting his name during a 3-1 win over the Predators.

"Kevin had a good game,'' coach Jack Capuano said when it was suggested that there might be some inclination to give Poulin a greater share of the goaltending duties over 38-year-old Evgeni Nabokov. "We'll evaluate it. It's tough for me to say right now.''

Poulin got the phone call Monday night informing him he would be the last line of defense in the attempt to stop a four-game losing streak, with the Islanders among the four most scored-upon teams in the league.

"I mean, I was really happy,'' he said, "to get the chance to start again.''

He sat through 10 of the first 11 games before Capuano turned to him in five of the Islanders' last nine games and, Tuesday, for Poulin's first back-to-back starts.

"The more you do something, the more comfortable you are at it, right?'' Poulin said. "I'm feeling really confident. I've been practicing a lot, but the games are a lot different.

"I'm seeing the puck really good. I'm not searching too much, even though there's traffic. I was out there. I was not deep in my net. And the guys did a good job of taking the rebounds and not giving them too much of an opportunity.''

Poulin thought his most important save might have come barely eight minutes into the game, when he shouldered away a charging drive by Eric Nystrom. "If I don't make that save,'' he said, "it's 1-0 and I don't think we play the same.''

Nashville didn't score until 5:30 to play. And Poulin was up to the task of dealing with a bit more action than was absolutely necessary in the final 2:20, when defenseman Aaron Ness took a holding penalty and Nashville supplemented its power play by pulling goalie Marek Mazanec for a sixth skater.

"Six-on-four,'' Poulin said, "I mean, it's just battling, right? There's a lot of bodies, the puck's bouncing, hit a shin pad, a skate, sticks. So you're just reflexes at that point.''

That's what Capuano liked.

"He battles,'' the coach said. "He competes.''

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