When feeling a bit wimpy, seek a second opinion. Something like that appeared to be at work for the Islanders Tuesday night, trying a larger dose of Pierre-Marc Bouchard on wing, seeking inspiration through the old hockey bromides -- fighting and roughing -- and experimenting with a tincture of speed on the John Tavares line.
Just how that all translated in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres -- whether it was a distinction without a difference -- is subject to debate. But the Islanders needed a lift after consecutive losses to Chicago and Nashville.
"I really liked the way we played," coach Jack Capuano said. "We'll take the point and go home."
Bouchard, a 40-assist, 55- point-a-year player through 10 seasons with the Minnesota Wild who signed a $2-million contract with the Islanders this summer but had been struggling to find a comfort zone with his new team, went from a healthy scratch Saturday to a full night of competent work.
"He competed," Capuano said of Bouchard. "He did a lot of good things, as far as with the puck, and away from the puck, which is more important. He's a creative guy and he played a 200-foot game."
Eric Boulton, not necessarily thinking of last week's Mayo Clinic conference on concussions that called for significant changes in hockey's tolerance of fighting and checking, mixed it up with Buffalo's Cody McCormick late in the second period.
That was followed immediately by unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against the Islanders' Matt Carkner and the Sabres' John Scott -- their conduct essentially consisting of attempting to brawl.
And when Buffalo's Steve Ott wrestled unnecessarily and roughly in the corner with Tavares early in the third period, Kyle Okposo leaped upon Ott -- sending the latter two to the sin bin.
"Our discipline was there," Capuano said, "but we played physical. Our guys stood together."
Less stirring for the crowd-- half of which appeared to have gone to Brooklyn to see the game, judging by all the empty seats at Nassau Coliseum -- was the use of the fleet Michael Grabner with Tavares and Okposo. Grabner's eight shots were a team high.
The Coliseum is a non-smoking facility, but things got a little fiery late in the second early in the third period before Matt Moulson's go-ahead goal seemed to contribute the Islanders' recent health on Coliseum ice.
For most of the last two seasons, there was a Home is Where the Hurt Is story, though the Islanders entered last night with a 6-0-2 record in their last eight regular-season games in Uniondale.
Anyway, Capuano was not standing pat.
"I thought [Grabner] did a good job," Okposo said, "and we generated a few opportunities."
"We were the better team, I thought, but sometimes the game works in mysterious ways."
Over most of the last two seasons, losing more often than winning in Uniondale, there has been a Home is Where the Hurt Is theme. But the Islanders felt better Tuesday night.
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