WASHINGTON — With a late night and an early morning to look over the video, Islanders coach Jack Capuano wasn’t so unhappy with his team’s performance in its season opener Thursday night.
The Islanders lost to the Rangers, 5-3, and didn’t really snap to life until early in the third period at Madison Square Garden, when they scored twice to pull even at 2-2. The Islanders couldn’t complete the rally, but upon further review, it wasn’t quite as depressing a start as one might have thought.
“We played pretty well,” Capuano said Friday. “Shots were even [25-25] at even strength. They did an exceptional job on the power play with 12 shots, got the big goal when they needed it. Obviously, there’s some things we can do better that we’ll continue to work on.”
Things don’t exactly get easier this weekend, with the Islanders facing the Capitals on Saturday night in Washington’s home opener and the Anaheim Ducks at 6 p.m. Sunday at Barclays Center in their own home opener.
The Islanders do have a few areas of concern. They had three power plays in the first 40 minutes on Thursday night and produced only three shots on Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers had two shorthanded shots on Jaroslav Halak.
Perhaps to that end, Capuano had 19-year-old Mathew Barzal practicing on a regular line and in power-play work Friday. Barzal was a healthy scratch in the opener, with fellow 19-year-old Anthony Beauvillier making his NHL debut. Beauvillier, who struggled in the first period but had an otherwise capable game and picked up a late assist for his first NHL point, worked as an extra Friday while Barzal skated with Ryan Strome and Anders Lee.
“There’s a chance,” Capuano said of seeing Barzal on Saturday night. “We’ve got these young kids here, we’ve got three games in four days. We want to give guys an opportunity to get in there. We wanted to see how he’d look on the power play and then we’ll go over it and make our decisions.”
Notes & quotes: Shane Prince, who played with Strome and Lee on Thursday night, shifted into Beauvillier’s spot alongside Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey . . . John Tavares, who took a slash to his left thumb by the Rangers’ J.T. Miller in the third period, practiced fully Friday.