WASHINGTON — Rookie defenseman Samuel Bolduc already has learned the veteran’s creed of life in the NHL.
“Hockey, a lot of people say, it’s a game of mistakes,” Bolduc said.
And the Islanders have done well to overcome theirs to put together a two-game winning streak as they battle to retain an Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
The Islanders will face the out-of-contention Capitals — with Alex Ovechkin listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury — on Monday night at Capital One Arena. A combined three points in their final two regular-season games, including Wednesday night’s finale against the also-ran Canadiens at UBS Arena, would clinch a postseason berth.
“That’s all we can do,” Lane Lambert said of focusing on one game at a time and not worrying about what the other contenders are doing after Saturday night’s methodical 4-0 win over the Flyers at UBS Arena. “We know what we have to do and every day is a new opportunity.”
The Panthers and Islanders are even with 91 points in 80 games, but the Panthers have one extra regulation win for the first tiebreaker. The Penguins are one point back.
The Panthers will host the Maple Leafs on Monday and the Penguins will host Chicago on Tuesday.
The Islanders did not practice Sunday, so there was no update on the status of Casey Cizikas, who was in obvious pain after blocking defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen’s power-play blast with his leg early in the third period Saturday. Cizikas managed to finish the game despite having to literally drag himself off the ice because he was unable to put weight on his left leg at the time.
Likewise, there was no update on defenseman Alexander Romanov, who has missed three games with an upper-body injury, or whether he accompanied the team to Washington. But the Islanders have withstood the loss of the physical Romanov to allow only three goals in the three games he has missed.
Part of that is the players’ ability to overcome early mistakes. For instance, the Flyers’ Owen Tippett was able to split Bolduc and Scott Mayfield to get to the Islanders’ crease at 6:27 of the first period, only to have Ilya Sorokin turn aside a grade-A chance.
Later, Bolduc, in what seemed a miscommunication with Sorokin on a second-period power play, nearly knocked the puck into his own net. Yet both Bolduc and Mayfield had goals against the Flyers.
“Mistakes are going to happen,” Bolduc said. “It’s how you react to them. Just don’t quit and don’t give up on the game if you make a mistake.”
Noah Dobson, who has struggled with his defensive game this season, said mistakes in one end don’t have to affect play up ice.
“I feel like it’s situational,” he said. “There’s times where, offensively, you’re getting lots of looks but you’re giving up a lot, too. It’s just a happy medium.”