Isles must recapture earlier momentum

Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov closes his eyes as

Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov closes his eyes as he sits in the goal after Scott Gomez of the Canadiens scored in the third period of a 4-2 win for Montreal. (Feb. 9, 2012) Photo Credit: David Pokress

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There have been other stretches like this one for the Islanders this season. Other times when goals have been hard to come by and points elusive, leaving them frustrated and treading water at the lower end of the Eastern Conference standings.

But this is no time to wallow, and not just because the Islanders have games on back-to-back afternoons at the Coliseum, beginning with Saturday's rare visit from the Kings.

"We have 29 games left and we're still in [the playoff picture], so we can't worry about what happened last game," Kyle Okposo said. "We've had stretches where we've won two, then lost two, and that can't happen anymore. We lost [Thursday] and it's over with."

The 4-2 loss to the equally struggling Canadiens, with both Islanders goals coming in the final 2:41 after a 170:02 scoring drought that stretched back to the first period of the shootout loss to the Sabres last Saturday, stalled the momentum that a 6-1-2 run had provided.

But the Isles, who entered Friday night's NHL slate in a three-way tie for 12th, 10 points out of eighth, feel as though they can restore that momentum with wins over the Kings and Panthers this weekend.

"We had 21 [scoring] chances the other night, so the effort's there," coach Jack Capuano said. "Josh Bailey's line, Tim Wallace's line, they generated some chances."

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But not goals. The Islanders' 128 goals are fewest in the East and 27th overall -- the Kings have a league-worst 119 goals -- and Capuano might swap Okposo and P.A. Parenteau on the top two lines, as he did in the third period Thursday to try to kick-start the offense.

"You obviously are going to have some lulls," Okposo said, "but this time of year, you have to forget what happened, and quickly."

Notes & quotes:Defenseman Travis Hamonic (broken nose) stopped by the Coliseum to watch practice, with metal stents in each nostril to help drain fluid. He said the deflected puck that caught him flush broke his nose and tore the septum off the bone. Once the stents come out, he can resume skating . . . Syosset product Rob Scuderi and former Islander Trent Hunter make their returns to the area Saturday with the Kings. Right wing Jordan Nolan, son of former Islanders coach Ted Nolan, was recalled by the Kings Friday and will make his NHL debut.

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