The improbable, inexplicable and downright incomprehensible too often seems to become the inevitable for the Islanders this season.
Leading the league in man-games lost, the Islanders saw yet another goaltender go down Tuesday night as 20-year-old rookie Kevin Poulin suffered a left knee injury in the warmups of what would have been his eighth start of the season. He left Nassau Coliseum on crutches and is expected to undergo an MRI Wednesday.
This latest goalie injury comes less than a week after oft-injured Rick DiPietro was sidelined for four to six weeks with facial fractures and knee swelling suffered in a fight with Penguins goalie Brent Johnson. Call-up Nathan Lawson is out with a sprained knee.
"Any time a goalie gets hurt in warm ups, it's a freak accident," tough guy Zenon Konopka said. "Obviously, it's a tough situation."
Poulin appeared to catch his left skate on a rut of the ice, causing him to spin and fall near the right post of his goal and teammates rushed to his aid.
"It looked like he caught his leg on the ice, like he got stuck on the heel pick" teammate Matt Martin said.
Poulin's injury forced backup Mikko Koskinen to make his NHL debut in the team's 5-3 loss to Toronto.
The 20-year-old Poulin, 4-2-1 in 10 games for the Islanders this season, had to be helped off the ice by assistant trainer Nates Goto and a teammate. He was not putting weight on his left leg.
"First I thought it wasn't anything bad, so I felt he was going to start the game," Koskinen said. "There wasn't much time to do anything. I didn't have any time to be nervous, so it was okay."
The 22-year-old Koskinen gave up two goals on the first two shots he faced, putting the Islanders in an early 2-0 hole 6:31 into the first period.
The Islanders scored two straight goals by Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner to tie the game at 2 in the second period, but the Leafs answered with three goals in the third by Tomas Kaberle, Nikolai Kulemin and Fredrik Sjostrom. Rob Schremp whittled the Leafs lead to two goals with less than two minutes to play. Koskinen made 21 saves.
"Can't be happy," Koskinen. "In the third period I made a couple mistakes and that cost the win tonight."
The 6-6 Koskinen, from Finland, became the fifth goaltender to appear for the Islanders this season, which tied the franchise record
Veteran netminder Dwayne Roloson was traded to Tampa Bay last month and Bridgeport call-up Lawson played in six games before suffering a strained MCL in his left knee that is expected to keep him out at least another week.
Just as Koskinen struggled in the AHL this season--a 5-15-0 record, 3.64 goals against average and .882 save percentage--he struggled early Tuesday night after abruptly replacing Poulin as the starter.
Colby Armstrong tallied for the Leafs at 1:29 and Jay Rosehill's expert deflection gave Toronto a 2-0 lead.
To back up Koskinen, the Islanders called up Bridgeport goaltender Joel Martin on an emergency basis.
Martin signed a two-way NHL contract with the Islanders earlier in the week to become the Sound Tigers starter.
But Martin was not readily available. He had to commute from Connecticut and did not arrive to Nassau Coliseum until late in the second period. He first appeared on the bench in the third period.
"My world was kind of spinning," Martin said of the whirlwind ride.
Of the team's mind-boggling misfortunes with injury this season, Konopka said:
"I can't lie to you. It's something I've never seen before in my career."