Islanders meeting gives renewed meaning to season

Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo skates into the

Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo skates into the zone looking to pass in the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

On Thursday morning, after Jack Capuano addressed his team and before the Islanders had their morning skate, the players decided to have a meeting.

This was not an angry, closed-door session after a bad loss, though the Isles have had a few of those this season. This was more of an open floor for a team that's been completely written off after a disappointing first 60 games and now a final six weeks of the season without the injured John Tavares.

"Everybody knows the situation, what's at stake for us, but it was good to talk about it and let everyone have a say that wanted to speak," Kyle Okposo said. "We never talked about playoffs or anything like that. It's just about focusing every night."

The Tavares-less Islanders showed reasonably well on Thursday night, coughing up a third-period lead, rallying to tie twice in the final 7:08 and then pulling out an overtime win. It was the 14th time this season the Islanders have given away a lead in the third period. They're now 4-4-6 in those games.

The Isles were not the top line-heavy offense they had been with Tavares healthy. Brock Nelson skated in his place between Thomas Vanek and Okposo; that line had a few good moments, but not many notable ones.

Michael Grabner's two shorthanded goals and Anders Lee's two third-period goals, one with the second-unit power play -- only the third power-play goal this season from the Isles' second unit -- showed some offensive life from the team's secondary scorers, something that's been missing.

Of course, secondary scoring is pretty much what the Isles have left without their star and catalyst. The Thursday meeting provided some reminders of that as well. The stingy Devils visit the Coliseum Saturday afternoon and the Islanders will need more opportunistic scoring. They have scored one goal or fewer in seven of the last eight visits by New Jersey to the Coliseum.

"You have to take some pride in the games we have left," Colin McDonald said. "Some guys are getting their first looks this year, some guys are getting a look in bigger minutes than they've gotten. You have to keep a positive outlook."

Notes & quotes: Frans Nielsen (broken hand) and Matt Martin (lower body) took part in practice, with Nielsen joining the full group for the first time since the Olympic break. Both forwards are more likely to return Sunday than Saturday.

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