Islanders playing well, need more from John Tavares’ line
PHILADELPHIA — A couple of minor breakdowns late in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Senators can’t derail the Islanders’ run of good play and positive feelings.
“I thought we played well on Saturday,” coach Jack Capuano said after the Islanders practiced on Monday and headed down here to prepare for Wednesday’s game against the Flyers. “We’re getting good play from our third and fourth lines and we just made a couple mistakes, a couple shots had eyes.”
Nothing is changing on the Islanders roster with the team on a 5-0-2 run and, as Capuano pointed out, the depth forward lines — Nikolay Kulemin-Mikhail Grabovski-Ryan Strome and Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck — have been leading the way, scoring six of the Isles’ last nine goals.
John Tavares got caught at the end of a lengthy overtime shift on the Senators’ winner Saturday and the Isles captain has two points (both goals) in the last six games. Not bad for any old forward, but not up to Tavares’ high standards.
Capuano acknowledges that Tavares can try to “do a little too much sometimes” when he’s frustrated. That includes staying on for longer shifts than normal, which in a week that featured three straight overtimes, can bring on some fatigue to go with the frustration.
“He’s going to come out of it and produce, we all know that,” Capuano said. “Johnny understands. His line [with Kyle Okposo and Brock Nelson] produced big for us when we put it together and they’ll get back to that.”
But even with the top line scuffling, the Islanders are putting up points in the standings, where it counts most. They put their 4-0-2 record against Metropolitan Division foes on the line Wednesday, the first of three games within the division this week.
Notes & quotes: Former Islander Andrew MacDonald, who has been in the AHL the entire season, was recalled by the Flyers on Monday. MacDonald signed a six-year, $30-million deal in 2014 but was demoted to give Philly some salary-cap space. D Radko Gudas, who has tangled with Tavares before, is serving the last of a three-game suspension Wednesday and MacDonald was summoned to fill in on a depleted Flyers blue line.