It was a brief, high-energy practice for the Islanders on Friday. Not much time to work through the issues that plagued them in Thursday night's 3-2 overtime loss to the Hurricanes, but the days of no-puck skates and sprints midseason are done.
With games Saturday afternoon in Newark against the surging Devils and Sunday night in Brooklyn against the Sabres, the Isles instead must take it upon themselves to get rid of the bad habits that have crept in at times this season and overtook them on Thursday night.
"I think we know when we're playing well and when we're not," John Tavares said Friday. "We know when we've got to be better. I think we've handled adversity pretty well this year. We've responded, whether it's the next period or the next game, so we're working toward that consistency we need."
Jack Capuano didn't alter much of anything on Friday. Jaroslav Halak returned after sitting out Thursday night because of illness. Ryan Strome, also absent because of illness on Thursday night, did not return and likely is out for the 1 p.m. start against the Devils. Former Devil Steve Bernier, who was very sound at both ends of the ice against Carolina, likely will play Saturday.
But the lines and defense pairs remained from Thursday night, when the Islanders had too much trouble exiting their own end and sustaining pressure in a game they led with just over five minutes to play. At 6-2-2, the Isles are off to their best 10-game start since 2001-02, but there was no satisfaction to be taken from a loser point after Thursday night's game.
"I thought they held each other accountable last night in a good way," Capuano said. "It's just about execution and managing the puck the right way. And that's exactly what can happen when you don't."
Tavares, now without a point in two straight games, showed some frustration on the ice and was one of the Islanders doing too much watching as the Staal brothers combined to set up Chris Terry for the Hurricanes' tying goal.
"I definitely think about the game when I get to bed, when I get up the next morning. It's not the first time I've had a bad game and it won't be the last," Tavares said. "You just regroup and look forward to the weekend, when you've got another chance to play well."