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Islanders need tinkering, not an overhaul, after two losses in row

New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano gives

New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano gives instructions during overtime of an NHL game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. Credit: AP / Gene J.Puskar

There is still no need for anything drastic with the Islanders, despite a couple of ugly losses to cap their Western Canada swing.

They have "some things to clean up," as Jack Capuano put it after a spirited IceWorks practice on Thursday. But the Islanders' two losses, to the Oilers and Canucks, were more self-inflicted than anything else, so cleaning up their own game is more important than worrying about being run over by any opponent.

"We did some things that are uncharacteristic of our team this year," Johnny Boychuk said. "We did a good job not giving either [the Oilers or Canucks] much, but we did give them the opportunities that led to their goals. We just need a better effort."

The Islanders surrendered eight goals (one into an empty net) in the two losses but allowed only 43 total shots, continuing their season-long trend of playing tight defensively. They are allowing 27.2 shots per game, tied for third fewest in the NHL.

So a total overhaul heading into Friday's game against the Devils in Newark is hardly necessary. Capuano had his forward lines assembled the same way he had them in the closing minutes of Tuesday's loss in Vancouver, with Mikhail Grabovski alongside John Tavares and Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner with Brock Nelson and Nikolay Kulemin.

"We're just looking for some more scoring," Capuano said. Grabovski scored his first goal in 11 games with 5:27 left on Tuesday to account for the 3-2 final result.

Friday's game marks the midway point in the season; a win over the Devils would tie the franchise mark for wins halfway through the season at 27, set during an 80-game season in 1978-79.

"The first half has been really good," Capuano said. "We've done a lot of really good things, I like the play of some of our younger guys since Day One. A lot of the things we set out to accomplish in training camp I think we've done so far."

Notes & quotes: Josh Bailey (upper body) practiced fully and said he felt fine after missing Tuesday's game. "We're never going to put a guy in there who's 60, 70 percent [healthy]," Capuano said. "We have some decisions to make." . . . Capuano will likely divide the next two games, Friday in Newark and Saturday in Columbus, between his two goaltenders but would not commit to that arrangement on Thursday.

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