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Islanders face tough tests in Penguins and Capitals back to back

The Islanders have said and felt that their last four games have been a bit different than the majority of the 17 that preceded them.

And, after Monday’s 2-1 overtime win over the Flames, the Isles are 2-2-0 in the last four, which is not a good record but is certainly better than the 2-5-4 slide that led up to the team’s California swing last week.

“We’ve made some adjustments to try and be more predictable for one another, to bring that pace to our game, to try and be up on the forecheck and create opportunities, having our D involved,” John Tavares said. “There have been some adjustments and it takes a couple games to get a feel for them, not having much time in practice to work on things. There’s a real good attitude from the team in the way we’ve approached games. Some tough breaks, some odd goals in the games we’ve let slip away. We’ve stayed focused on having the right attitude and focusing on the areas we need to improve.”

Now comes a serious test of whether the Islanders are a team that can exit the NHL’s basement and truly feel they can make a run at the playoffs. The Penguins come to Barclays Center on Wednesday, followed by a trip down to Washington for a game with the Caps on Thursday.

These are two division rivals that have gotten the best of the Islanders even in good times the past few years. The Islanders are 1-3-2 in their last six against both the Pens and Caps; the Isles are also 0-3-1 in the Metro Division, where they will need to grab two points as often as possible to start the long climb back to respectability.

The common thread in their losses to the Pens (twice) and the Caps (once) this season: lack of offense. Monday’s win over the Flames on Thomas Hickey’s overtime winner was the first game this season the Islanders won when scoring fewer than three goals (1-9-3) and the Isles’ 2.38 goals per game is 22nd in the league.

“We’ve had a couple stinkers where the effort wasn’t there, but for the most part they’ve given us what they’ve had,” Jack Capuano said. “Those West Coast games were probably three of the best we’ve had. We’re in with good teams. But we’ve got to get over the hump and get those guys who aren’t producing to get the offense going.”

Notes & quotes: Capuano seemed unlikely to switch his forward lines, meaning Ryan Strome is likely to be a healthy scratch for a third straight game . . . Adam Pelech (upper body) skated before the Isles’ practice on Tuesday and is questionable to play on Wednesday. Pelech left Monday’s game after a hard hit from the Flames’ Micheal Ferland in the second period. If Pelech can’t play, Scott Mayfield is likely to step in. Ryan Pulock was activated off injured reserve on Tuesday and sent to Bridgeport, where he played on Tuesday night after missing five weeks with a broken foot. Dennis Seidenberg (broken jaw) practiced on Tuesday but is still not ready to return.


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