Islanders need to win the ugly games

New York Islanders center Josh Bailey (12) comes New York Islanders center Josh Bailey (12) comes away with the puck as Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo (21) crashes into Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matt Gilroy (97) behind the goal during the first period. (Oct. 20, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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SUNRISE, Fla. -- The conversation before practice Friday morning was a familiar one. Jack Capuano needs his Islanders to be consistent in their approach and their performance.

The only thing that the Islanders did consistently Thursday night in a 4-1 loss to the Lightning in Tampa was to consistently do things they weren't coached to do. That's the sort of consistency that drives coaches to frustration and teams to the bottom of the standings.

It's still early, the Islanders are 3-2-0 and they have seen what comes of starting games with the desire to get pucks deep and get themselves into the high-traffic areas around an opponent's net.

But they didn't do it Thursday, nor in the opener two weeks ago against the Panthers team they visit Saturday night. Perhaps worse, the Islanders haven't reversed poor starts with a redoubled effort the rest of the way.

"Some games are easy to play -- you get the bounces, you get goals, you get the power plays, like we did against the Rangers," Mark Streit said. "We worked hard, but we got some things to go our way, too. Some nights, especially on the road, things don't go your way from the start, and you have to learn how to grind it out and win when things are kind of ugly."

The veterans Garth Snow brought in this offseason are the kinds of players who may not be explosive on the ice but bring the perspective of having seen every sort of situation, good and bad, in their time.

Brian Rolston, nine games shy of 1,200 for his career -- he'll be the 88th player to reach that milestone -- has seen and experienced a lot.

"We talked about that and it's something we need to address," Rolston said of the team's inability to overcome sluggish starts in the two losses. "Some nights we've been unbelievable and others we're just not there. Good teams bring that same intensity every night and they don't let one or two bad games turn into a few. It's imperative we bounce back tomorrow."

That's the sort of talk that wasn't heard much around the team last season when they were out of the mix early.

Notes & quotes: Blake Comeau will return to the lineup after sitting the last two games as a healthy scratch. He'll also be back on left wing, his natural side, after playing three listless games on the right side. Rolston will switch to the right side of Josh Bailey.

"I've just got to build some confidence up and go from there," Comeau said. "I want to be a guy who contributes offensively and, if that's not happening, I need to be able to do other things to be able to stay in the lineup."

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