Part of the Islanders' maturation process is learning how to be a solid team away from Nassau Coliseum. As they head off for games in Denver and Vancouver, the lessons learned from their first four road games are hanging over them.
There was a no-show 4-1 loss in Tampa, a 2-2 tie entering the third in Sunrise, Fla., that finished as a 4-2 loss to the Panthers, a blown 2-0 third-period lead in Pittsburgh that finished in a shootout defeat, and a scattershot effort in Boston on Monday that finished 6-2, the Islanders' ugliest loss this season.
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"I think it's just a confidence thing for us," Marty Reasoner said. "On the road, it's a matter of playing your way into a game and not playing your way out of it, with a mistake at the wrong time. In Boston, we had some mistakes, but you'd take a 3-2 game entering the third period if you could. But we have to have confidence."
Part of what's hurt the Islanders on the road is slow starts to periods. In their Florida trip, they needed nearly 13 minutes of the second period to get a shot on goal in Tampa, then nearly nine minutes of the second to do the same in Sunrise. They scored quickly in the third to go up two goals in Pittsburgh, but the Penguins responded just as fast.
And, even though they were nearly run out of the TD Garden with three Bruins goals in the first 14:07, the Islanders were only down a goal with chances to tie until the Bruins tilted the ice once more early in the third to salt it away.
"I think we've been better of late to react after we give up a goal, but it's a process," Steve Staios said. "We believe in the guys we have in here. We know if we play a certain way, we'll have success."
Jack Capuano said he may put Mike Mottau back into the defensive lineup for Thursday night's game with the Avalanche -- Milan Jurcina, who struggled mightily against the Bruins, may be the odd defenseman out -- and Al Montoya, who made 22 saves in relief of Evgeni Nabokov on Monday, will likely get the start in goal.
But there are no other major changes on the horizon. "We're 4-6-2. It could be a lot worse, and it could be a lot better," Capuano said. "We know we need to be the hardest-working team every night."
Notes & quotes: RW Nino Niederreiter (groin) will remain in Bridgeport through the weekend, playing three more AHL games to finish his two-week conditioning stint before rejoining the Islanders when they return from Vancouver.