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Nathan Lawson starts, Frans Nielsen out again

Nathan Lawson gets the nod tonight; Islanders hope he can bounce back from his last appearance, when he gave up two goals in the first 5:17 against Edmonton Thursday

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The Islanders were without one of their most valuable players last night once again, as Frans Nielsen missed his third straight game with a groin strain suffered in the team’s 5-2 win over Calgary Monday.

Although not the flashiest player, Nielsen has been perhaps the team’s most consistent player throughout what has been an incredibly turbulent season.

Not only is Nielsen the team’s best defensive forward, he is also a crucial cog on the team’s power-play and penalty-killing units. And although special teams have fared well recently, Nielsen’s absence is a costly blow for a team that has seen injuries mount steadily since September.

“It’s a huge loss,” coach Jack Capuano said. “Frans is a guy that plays in all situations. He’s really a guy that goes unnoticed, but from people that really understand the game, he’s an integral part of this team.”

Capuano said Nielsen was held out last night for precaution and will likely return to the lineup this week.

“We have one more game on this road trip, so we can get back and he can go to the doctors. But he looked good in practice and has been skating,” Capuano said. “If he hadn’t been skating, I’d be worried but right now he’s just day to day.”

The 26 year-old Danish center, who has four goals in 37 games this season leads the team in shorthanded goals (3) and is second on the team with 14 assists.

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Bridgeport pivot Jeremy Colliton, who was called up for the game against Colorado Saturday, will replace Nielsen again tonight. He tallied twice in Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win over the Calgary Flames, his first multi-point game in the NHL>

“He’s been around a while, he’s a bit of an older guy, and I knew he’d do the job,” Capuano said.
 

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