Jack Capuano opts to rest Evgeni Nabokov against Flyers

Evgeni Nabokov blocks a shot on goal by Evgeni Nabokov blocks a shot on goal by the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period of a game in Raleigh, N.C. (April 23, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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PHILADELPHIA -- Evgeni Nabokov didn't necessarily feel he needed a rest Thursday night, with Jack Capuano choosing to start Kevin Poulin in goal and save Nabokov for the regular-season finale Friday night in Buffalo.

"Half of this game is the mental part," Nabokov said after the morning skate. "You get in a groove, you just need to take care of yourself mentally. Physical part is not that hard, really."

If all goes according to plan, Nabokov will end up starting 41 of the 48 games this season. It's not a completely crazy number, given that as many as 10 goaltenders could end up making at least 40 appearances in this shortened season.

Capuano said he made his decision after goaltending coach Mike Dunham and Nabokov had a long talk on Wednesday. With Nabokov scheduled for Friday night and the playoffs likely to begin Tuesday or Wednesday night, that's one fewer day of rest on the other side for the 37-year-old goaltender.

"With the back-to-back games, [Nabokov] obviously wasn't going to play both," Capuano said. "This is what we went with."

 

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Isles muscle up

Capuano made a few changes to add some size against the Flyers, who are still a physical team and had nothing to play for Thursday night, having already been eliminated from the playoff race after a disappointing season.

Matt Carkner took Thomas Hickey's spot on defense, ending a string of 15 consecutive games played for Hickey.

And Eric Boulton took Jesse Joensuu's spot on the fourth line. Both Boulton and Carkner dressed and fought on April 18 in the 5-3 win over the Leafs, and several Islanders credited the first-period fights with helping to turn around the game after a slow start for the Islanders.

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