PITTSBURGH — Jack Capuano changed his starting goaltender Tuesday night on the back end of back-to-back games. But the Islanders coach’s insertion of J-F Berube only was the beginning.
Citing a desire for fresh legs after Monday night’s frantic, come-from-behind, 3-2 victory over the Panthers at the Barclays Center, Capuano made three other changes to his lineup against the Penguins at Consol Energy Center.
Mikhail Grabovski, who had missed the previous 10 games with an upper body injury, dressed and immediately was inserted onto the top line with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo.
Also in the lineup were Steve Bernier, on a line with Anders Lee and Nikolay Kulemin, and Brian Strait, who paired with Thomas Hickey on defense.
Taking the night off: Brock Nelson, Shane Prince and Ryan Pulock. Nelson had played in 202 consecutive regular-games before Tuesday night, dating to Dec. 5, 2013.
After the Islanders lost, 2-1, in an overtime shootout, Capuano said he was pleased with the moves.
“I was happy,” he said. “Grabovski had some fresh legs. It’s tough when you don’t play. And I thought Bernier gave us some hard minutes and had some chances as the game went on. It’s good to get those guys in there who are part of our team. You want to utilize everybody.”
Capuano said the moves should not be taken as a reflection of the performances of Nelson and Prince.
“I’m not looking at those guys sitting because of their effort or the way they’ve played,” he said. “They’ve played well. It’s a tough decision to make. It’s just a decision that we made and to me they’ve done nothing wrong to come out . . . Come next game those guys probably will be back in.”
The Islanders have an off day Wednesday in Nashville before facing the Predators there Thursday night . . . With Nelson’s consecutive games streak now over, Kulemin has played the most in a row as an Islander at 146. He’s at 218 overall including his time with the Maple Leafs . . . The Islanders out-hit the Penguins, 46-26 . . . John Tavares had a game-high six shots on goal . . . The Islanders barely survived an overtime during which the Penguins had seven shots on goal and defenseman Travis Hamonic was stuck on the ice for about two minutes. “You just try to battle, I guess,” Hamonic said. “I knew no one was going to let us off the ice. You just try and get the puck and get it out.”