WASHINGTON - Kevin Poulin might reasonably have expected to get a second straight start in goal Tuesday night, coming off his best performance of the season in the Islanders' 3-1 win over the Bruins on Saturday.
Poulin made 26 saves in that game, which was a night after Evgeni Nabokov allowed four goals on 31 shots in a shootout win over the Senators.
But Poulin, who has made back-to-back starts only twice in his brief NHL career -- he started three straight games from Feb. 18-21, 2012, but was pulled from the middle start after allowing two goals in the first 1:35 -- has gotten accustomed to the life of an NHL backup.
"I don't like to expect starts," Poulin said Tuesday morning, shortly after Jack Capuano announced that Nabokov would make his 12th start this season. "I haven't had two in a row in a long time, so I'd rather wait until they say I'm starting and just try to enjoy it."
McDonald nearing return
Colin McDonald missed his fifth straight game with a nagging hip injury but had a stringent skate in the morning. Capuano said McDonald, who was injured in the second game of the season and tried to play through it, has needed the break. "There's a good chance you're going to see him in the next game," Capuano said.
Still no help on 'D' yet
Isles GM Garth Snow still hasn't summoned an extra defenseman for the road trip, which continues in Raleigh against the Hurricanes Thursday and is followed by back-to-back games in Columbus and Montreal on the weekend.
Bridgeport does not play again until Friday. Capuano said he and Snow preferred the Isles' call-up candidates -- most likely Calvin de Haan and Aaron Ness -- get full practices with the Sound Tigers rather than brief skates with the Isles.