Jack Capuano gave his team the day off on Friday, a small reward for not taking off any part of their back-to-back wins over the Ducks and Kings.
The Islanders' daunting five-game Western Conference swing ends Saturday night against the Coyotes with a chance to head home in possession of six points out of a possible 10; even the four points earned in Anaheim and Los Angeles makes this one of the more successful western trips in recent Islanders history.
They pulled themselves together by shoring up a few areas of concern even during the Isles' 6-2-0 start: goaltending, team defense and penalty killing. Chad Johnson had his best start of the season Thursday in Los Angeles, making 28 stops plus two more in the shootout.
That followed two straight strong starts by Jaroslav Halak against the Sharks and Ducks, leaving the Islanders with the 1-2 punch in goal they envisioned when Garth Snow added the two goaltenders this past offseason.
"When you see your goaltender quiet, not busy, in the net, you like what you see," Capuano said of Johnson.
Halak is likely to go back in for tonight's game with the Coyotes, who played the Ducks in Anaheim late Friday night.
The Isles finally had a good night on the penalty kill Thursday, going 4-for-4 against the Kings, including a big kill with 6:10 left in the third period. It marked only the third time in the Islanders' eight wins they didn't allow a power-play goal, and even better, they allowed only three Kings shots on the four power plays.
"We jumped on them," Kyle Okposo said. "The PK was really aggressive, our down-ice pressure was good, too. We took a huge step forward there."
Perhaps the biggest sign that these Islanders are not the same they've been was the compliment paid by Kings coach Darryl Sutter after Thursday's game.
"We held a top team to one goal," Sutter said.
Notes & quotes: F Michael Grabner (hernia surgery) began skating earlier this week back on Long Island. He is still several weeks away from returning.