Doug Weight’s first game was a success Thursday night. Now he and his Islanders players have to find a way to make the emotion and energy of that debut victory a permanent part of their game, starting with back-to-back home contests against the Kings and Flyers this weekend.
“You can’t lose sight of that,” said John Tavares, who had two goals in the 3-0 win over the Stars. “A couple big games this weekend against a couple good teams. We backed up a good win in Boston last night and now it’s time to follow it up again. That’s the hardest thing to do is follow up a good effort with another one. Big challenges this weekend. We can’t get ahead of ourselves. A lot of hockey left.”
Weight rode Tavares, who has seven goals in his last four games, and Thomas Greiss, who made 23 saves in his second straight shutout, but got consistent contributions from all over the lineup.
The Islanders are 14th in the Eastern Conference, eight points out of the last playoff spot with 39 games remaining. To convince themselves that they are not out of it, the Islanders have to continue their solid play of the last two games, starting with Saturday night’s visit from the Kings.
“We’ve addressed that,” said Weight, who stayed off the ice to break down video and gave his players the option of skating Friday or Saturday morning. “It is an emotional couple days, and they played like it. Our point is, we’ve got to play the next 39 games like that. It’s a playoff-type atmosphere. Watch ing the game again, it was a real team effort.”
Jack Capuano started Greiss in seven straight games before Capuano was fired Tuesday. Thursday’s win was the eighth straight start for Greiss, who had never recorded back-to-back shutouts in his NHL career.
Weight said he will go with J-F Berube in goal Saturday night. He moved up from No. 3 to No. 2 on the goaltending depth chart when Jaroslav Halak was waived and demoted to the AHL on Dec. 30, but this will be Berube’s first start since the goaltending mess was cleaned up.
“I have a lot of good memories over there, a lot of familiar faces, so it will be a fun game, an easy game to get motivated to play,” said Berube, who was a 2009 draft pick of the Kings and played four seasons in their farm system. “I haven’t played in a long time. I’m really excited just to go in there. There’s an extra boost of motivation to play against them.”
Notes & quotes: Weight said Andrew Ladd, Cal Clutterbuck and Johnny Boychuk are day-to-day. “I’m not sure if we’ll get all three back [Saturday night], or none, or one or two,” Weight said. “The guys gave it their all yesterday, so I’m comfortable going with the same lineup.”