Scott Hartnell of the Philadelphia Flyers lines up Travis Hamonic...

Scott Hartnell of the Philadelphia Flyers lines up Travis Hamonic of the New York Islanders. (Dec. 5, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Although coach Jack Capuano insisted the taxing two-hour practice he put his team through Tuesday wasn't a punishment skate, the message was perfectly clear.

"What's been going on, it's unacceptable," John Tavares said. "It has to change at some time or other. Hopefully, this is something else to get us going."

Two days after several frustrated players lamented the team's latest defeat to the Flyers on Sunday - one even called the environment a "country club" to describe the team's passive attitude toward losing - the Islanders were subjected to a rigorous and lengthy on-ice session.

The practice - two hours long save for a 10-minute break to condition the ice - included end-to-end backchecking and chase drills, exhausting line rushes (3-on-0, 3-on-1, 3-on-2) and one-on-one battles. The Islanders also returned to the rink later in the afternoon for an off-ice workout as part of their current two-a-days regimen.

Despite the grueling day, there was no sulking in the dressing room afterward. With 17 losses in the last 18 games, the Islanders discarded excuses and took responsibility for this season's disappointments.

"We have to be better, we have to play with more desperation, that's what I got out of it," P.A. Parenteau said. "We probably deserved to practice a little longer and get our -- kicked a little bit. We lost 17 out of 18. It's not fun, no one's happy about it, but we still believe we have the guys to turn this around."

Defenseman Bruno Gervais said he was impressed with the response from the team.

"At first, it's hard and it kind of shocks you, but it's good to have your cage rattled once in a while," he said. "At the end, when guys were really tired, they were still making some nice plays. Guys were gassed, but they were digging really deep and that's what you want to see."

With a tough game against the Boston Bruins and hot goaltender Tim Thomas Thursday, the Islanders hope yesterday's wake-up call will lead them in the right direction.

"I know it's mentally tough for those guys, but they've got to find it within themselves in that room," Capuano said. "They've got to have a little attitude and swagger to their game. You can look at the standings but we've got to have some attitude, play with an edge and have the confidence and belief that we can win some hockey games."

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