Kyle Okposo helping Islanders on defense
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kyle Okposo knows what his numbers say about the way his season has gone.
But as his coach put it after Okposo and his linemates helped shut down Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis in the Islanders' 2-0 win over the Lightning on Thursday night, the time to worry about Okposo's struggles is past.
"We met this week during our few days of practice with Kyle's line, and we talked about it," coach Jack Capuano said of the Josh Bailey-Frans Nielsen-Okposo line, which has been used as a checking-style line recently against the opposition's top forward line. "We told them Fransie was going to see a lot of the other teams' top guys and Josh and Kyle really accepted that challenge. They're battling defensively and the last few games, I've liked what they've done."
That line was on for three Penguins goals in Sunday's 6-1 loss in Pittsburgh, but the trio shook it off and contained the Lightning's dangerous duo Thursday.
Okposo, who has two goals and seven assists this season, said the defensive assignments have given him some confidence to offset his frustration about not scoring.
"Obviously, my numbers aren't where I want them to be, they're not anywhere close, but when you're struggling to get points, you've got to find other ways to help the team," Okposo said after the Islanders' practice Friday. "I'm not playing bad . . . I don't know what it is. But it definitely feels good to contribute when you're not putting up points."
Notes & quotes: F David Ullstrom went on injured reserve with a groin injury, suffered late in Thursday's win, and will be sidelined up to a month. Ullstrom went down in a heap by the Isles' bench with less than three minutes to go and had to be carried to the locker room. Jesse Joensuu, who hasn't played a game this season after sports hernia surgery, is likely to come off the suspended list to replace Ullstrom on the roster. Joensuu could make his season debut Saturday against the Panthers . . . Colin McDonald, who missed Thursday's game with an illness, also could return. He'll be an Islander for the future, too, as he signed a two-year, $1.275-million extension Friday.