TAMPA, Fla. - Evgeni Nabokov didn't get to do anything but see his old Islanders pals here Saturday, but there's a decent chance he'll be in net when the Lightning visits the Coliseum on Tuesday.
When the chatty goalie was asked if he might run his mouth on the ice, he smiled. "Well,'' he said, "what do you think?"
The mischievous grin and easygoing attitude of the 39-year-old Nabokov is something the Islanders miss. They went in another direction after last season, Nabokov's third with the team.
He signed a one-year, $1.55- million deal with Tampa Bay during the summer to back up Ben Bishop, but he still keeps an eye on his old squad.
"It's a close group over there. They're like brothers to each other and I hope they're going to continue that," Nabokov said. "I guarantee you something good is going to come out of that locker room soon. I pretty much guarantee."
Nabokov and John Tavares were an unlikely pair of confidants, but the Islanders' captain relied on the veteran goalie to help him lead the team last season.
"He played on same great teams in San Jose and I used to ask him quite a bit how they handled things there," Tavares said. "Nabby was great at keeping the mood light. He helped me learn how to overcome some of the adversity we experienced together here."
Cal Clutterbuck (lower body) sat out the game with an injury he apparently suffered on a late third-period breakaway try on Friday against the Panthers. Roberto Luongo stopped his shot and Erik Gudbranson leveled Clutterbuck. He left the game and did not return.
The Isles' Cory Conacher, who came up with the Lightning and won a Calder Cup in the AHL playing for current Lightning coach Jon Cooper, got back in after being a healthy scratch Friday.
A back-of-the-neck save
Jaroslav Halak said he'd never pulled off a move like the save he made in the second period Friday, when he pinned a fluttering puck to the crossbar with the back of his neck.
"I thought it was on top of the net, but I heard the guys yelling, 'Don't move!' " Halak said. "After the whistle, it just fell down inside my jersey. The ref was right there. He said it never crossed the line.
"So it was lucky for sure. I hope I can have a few more of those in big spots."