In the Triumphant Return Department, first-time All-Star John Tavares' four-point game (two goals, two assists) Tuesday night in Raleigh, N.C., served as a nice way for the Islanders to begin the season's second half.
It capped Tavares' hot January, during which he led the league in scoring (nine goals, 13 assists), picked up a point in 12 of 13 games, scored four game-winning goals and was named the NHL's top star of the month. And, it earned Tavares a day off from practice Wednesday, given that he has "played a lot of hockey and had a lot of travel recently," coach Jack Capuano said.
So now, to the Keeping Up With the Leaders Department. While the Islanders' top six forwards, paced by Tavares, "are doing offensively what they need to do," Capuano said, "now, during this stretch, we have to find a way for other guys to score some goals, put points on the board. We have to get some secondary scoring."
And, by doing so, the Islanders (20-22-7) might be able to gain ground on the three teams ahead of them pushing for the last playoff spot in the conference.
"Those guys have played well," Capuano said. "I've said before, we can put P.A. pretty much anywhere we want. He's a gritty guy. He loves to compete and he gets the job done for us. Others have played well, too. But, to me, they pass up opportunities. You look at video and talk to them but, sometimes, they can't be playmakers all the time. They've got to think, 'shot,' because to score goals in this league, a lot of times it's the second and third opportunity.
"We stress constantly to get pucks and bodies to the net."
Notes & quotes:Goalie Kevin Poulin, called up from Bridgeport to start Tuesday's game because "he had played well and seen a lot of pucks," Capuano said, while the rest of the Islanders were on their all-star break, was returned to the Connecticut affiliate Wednesday. Forward Rhett Rakhshani, also a minor-league call-up, remained with the team. Injured forward Marty Reasoner (hand) practiced but his availability remains day-to-day.