Islanders take step in right direction
"It's only one win," said Grabner, who scored the winner with a shorthanded goal 5:51 into the third period Saturday. "We need to make sure we do the same things we did and get a few more."
The relief of earning their first victory on the road in eight tries (1-5-2) won't last if the Islanders can't follow up with another strong road game tomorrow in Buffalo, the first of three straight on the road this week. At the end of the week, the Islanders go to Chicago and Dallas, two teams that have been among the best in the Western Conference this season.
It was a tumultuous holiday week for the Islanders, who hit a low point in an already humbling start when Sidney Crosby returned after 101/2 months away because of concussion symptoms and lit up the Isles for two goals and two assists in Monday's 5-0 Penguins win in Pittsburgh. It was the second consecutive game the Islanders were shut out.
After that loss, general manager Garth Snow told Newsday that he had "no intention to replace" Jack Capuano as coach. Blake Comeau, who scored 24 goals in 2010-11 but has underachieved this season, was waived after the Islanders blew a 3-1 lead in an overtime loss to the Flyers; the Flames claimed Comeau, a well-liked member of the Isles' young core.
After suffering their third shutout in four games in a loss to the Devils Friday -- the fifth time in 13 games they have been shut out at home -- the Isles broke through Saturday. They have 16 points, still the fewest in the Eastern Conference.
"I think the last nine periods, we've played pretty well," Capuano said after Saturday's win. "I thought we played better on Friday [in the 1-0 loss] than we did [Saturday night]. We deserved a better fate the other night and we got it [Saturday night]. The bench is still good. We've got a lot of guys who care."
There's no moral victories, though, not when the actual wins are too few and far between. During their current 3-10-4 skid, the Isles have gotten points in consecutive games only once.
"We just have to keep playing the same way and be consistent," Jay Pandolfo said. "I know we've said it before, but we need to start building off these good games."