Capuano expects Isles still to play hard

The Islanders' John Tavares battles for the loose

The Islanders' John Tavares battles for the loose puck against Ottawa's Chris Neil in front of the goal in the first period. (April 1, 2012) (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

Monday's Islanders practice, on what was supposed to be a day off after back-to-back games, was just a matter of "going about our business," coach Jack Capuano said.

But he did acknowledge the importance of addressing "lapses" in Sunday's 5-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on the day after the Islanders officially were eliminated from postseason consideration.

As all playoff hope vanished in Saturday's 6-3 loss to Boston, so did Sunday's early 1-0 lead.

"I don't know if we, as a whole, all were mentally invested" in Sunday's game, Capuano said. "I think that had something to do with it. You know, you train all summer, you work all year, you find out you haven't reached the goal that you wanted to reach, I'm sure there is some disappointment. And there is as a coaching staff as well."

All that is left for the 33-35-11 Islanders, with a .500 season unlikely, are two road games (Tuesday night in New Jersey and Saturday in Columbus) sandwiched around a home finale against Winnipeg on Thursday.

"You know what?" Capuano said. "Drop the puck tomorrow night, till the buzzer blows in Columbus, we just want to play hard and do things the right way." By that, he means guarding against an inclination -- now that there is no playoff carrot -- "to be too individualistic, trying to do things for yourself and worrying about stats.''

He added, "There's no question we've made some progress. We went through that stretch where we were really inconsistent, and it cost us a chance for these last few games to be more meaningful.

" . . . There are a lot of games, 82 games. You know you're not going to have your legs every single night. Not every player. You know that going in. But you hope that other guys will pick them up.

"There are some young guys and they're still learning. But I like where they're going. I like their mentality and their attitude right now.

"But again, we've got three games left. It's a good chance for some of our other guys to get an opportunity here, to play some guys a little bit more minutes than we have in the past."

Notes & quotes: Matt Donovan, a 21-year-old defenseman whose 10 goals and 32 assists led Bridgeport in scoring, has been recalled by the Islanders from their AHL affiliate.

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