Matt Donovan has sat and sat, has been skated to death after practices and morning skates, and hasn't said a word. He also figured, having gotten his chance to play in Game 6 Saturday, that there was no reason to be nervous for his first playoff game.

"I have nothing to lose at this point," said Donovan, who joined defense partner Scott Mayfield in making his playoff debut with the Islanders.

Said Donovan, a scratch for the first five games of the series as well as for 70 of the 82 regular-season games: "I watched how [the Caps] like to play so I wanted to lay it all on the line, play hard, play physical."

Mayfield, the Isles' 2011 second-round pick, spent the entire season with Bridgeport and was brought up after the Sound Tigers' season ended to skate with the playoff taxi squad. But injuries to Travis Hamonic, Lubomir Visnovsky and Calvin de Haan -- the last two in Games 4 and 5 -- meant it was time for Mayfield.

The 6-5, 218-pound defenseman played simply and smartly, dumping Jason Chimera to the ice in the third to draw big cheers.

Donovan got involved as well, though apparently too much for referee Dan O'Rourke's liking. He received a 10-minute misconduct with 1:24 left in the second period after a very routine-looking post-whistle shoving match.

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"Dono, hats off to him," Thomas Hickey said. "He's a confident guy, and the way his season's gone, sometimes a guy might lose confidence. Not him. He's a great team guy and he was tremendous when he got his chance.

"It'd be an insult to say I was surprised by how Scotty played, but I don't really know his game that well. But he was poised back there all game."

Coach Jack Capuano rolled the dice on those two changes, plus putting Colin McDonald in for Tyler Kennedy and Brock Nelson, a healthy scratch in Game 5, back in for Anders Lee, the Isles' second-leading goal-scorer this season.

"We have a lot of guys who could play and obviously Anders scored 20-something goals this year," Capuano said. "Colin's an energy guy, a big body and he's played well for us."

Capuano said he'll need to reevaluate his lineup again for Game 7, given that the Caps will have the last line change as the home team. That could cause matchup problems for Donovan and Mayfield, the same way it did for Griffin Reinhart in Game 5.

"It's going to be a battle," Capuano said. "We need to rethink it again . . . But Dono and Mayfield gave us some great minutes. They were terrific."