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Isles must regroup to face Montreal and Pittsburgh

Evgeni Nabokov of the Islanders skates off the

Evgeni Nabokov of the Islanders skates off the ice after a game against the Ottawa Senators. (March 19, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Islanders broke apart in the third period on Tuesday. Now it's time to pick up the pieces.

After surrendering a 3-1 lead and losing, 5-3, thanks to a four-goal third by the Senators, the Islanders have a daunting task with the Canadiens and Penguins, the top two teams in the East, coming to the Coliseum Thursday and Friday.

There is no time to lament what might have been or wonder how three deflected goals, a missed officials' call and one fluke score defeated the Isles on Tuesday in a game the Isles didn't exactly give away, but still couldn't put away.

"The same way we felt we hadn't accomplished anything by being a game over .500, we're not out of it now that we're back at .500," Jack Capuano said Wednesday, having given his team the day off in preparation for back-to-back home games. "We're still right there and we need to play that way."

The Islanders are 5-2-2 in their last nine games, a stretch that includes a 6-3 win over the Canadiens. And there may be some reinforcements to at least give a minor jolt to the Isles' lineup.

Michael Grabner (shoulder) and Matt Carkner (hip flexor) could both come off injured reserve for Thursday's game. Grabner, who has missed the last three games, would step in for Eric Boulton and most likely begin on the wing with Marty Reasoner and Matt Martin; the Isles' two best lines on Tuesday were the Josh Bailey-Frans Nielsen-Kyle Okposo and the Casey Cizikas-Keith Aucoin-Colin McDonald lines, so Capuano may not want to mess with those groupings.

Carkner, who has been out since Feb. 5, would likely step in for Radek Martinek.

Capuano also may make his first switch in goal in nearly a month; Kevin Poulin could get the start against the Canadiens. It would be the 22-year-old's first start since Feb. 24 and only his third appearance since being called up Feb. 23.

New York Sports