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Game Preview: Islanders vs. Capitals

Kyle Okposo will play in his first game this season when the New York Islanders take on the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night

Thursday, 01.20.2011 / 12:00 AM / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
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Game Preview: Islanders vs. Capitals
Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum, the New York Islanders will face the Washington Capitals for the second time this season. In their first meeting, the Capitals stole a 2-1 win after prospect Nino Niederreiter scored his first NHL goal during the first period to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.

Even though this will be the second meeting, it will seem like the first. Due to injuries, the Islanders have a very different roster than they did at the start of the season and eight players that were major contributors in the first game, will not be in the lineup.

“It was a different team when they held them to those two goals," Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said. "But at the same time, they have some high powered offense and they also have a different lineup than they were then too. So we just have to be on top of our game a little bit better. I thought (our game against) New Jersey, we were just casual in certain areas of our game and that has to pick up a little bit.”

The Isles have one of the highest man games lost totals in the league, fans attending the game will witness the long-awaited return of Kyle Okposo, who will play in his first game this season after undergoing shoulder surgery during the preseason.

“Obviously he’s been practicing and he works hard, but for a guy that’s been out there for that long, just to see a smile on his face and him being around the guys is the important thing right now,” Capuano said.

Easing Okposo back into the game will be important.

“We have to control his minutes,” Capuano said. “But we would not play him unless we thought he was ready to go. He’s been skating very hard with the coaches that have been working him out. We’ll have to see how the game goes, but I’m sure he’ll see some power play time.”

The Capitals roster remains intact and their major players remain offensive threats. Alexander Ovechkin, who scored the Capitals game-tying goal on Oct. 13, leads the team in points (46). And Nicklas Backstrom, who was credited with the game-winning goal after the puck deflected off his toe, is a close second (42 points).

The Capitals top lines may have more points than the Islanders top scoring lines, but the Isles have been more potent in recent weeks. Since the New Year, the Islanders and Capitals have posted very similar records, as both teams have only recorded three wins.

The Capitals have had to depend on players, other than Ovechkin, to produce points. Ovechkin has only scored two goals and two assists in the month of January, while Islanders sophomore John Tavares has scored seven goals and has had two assists. Those points (33 total) put Tavares on pace to score more points than he did in his rookie season, defying the notion of a sophomore slump.

PA Parenteau #15 of the New York Islanders skates during an NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at the Nassau Coliseum on January 11, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
A lot of Tavares’ success has been to the playmaking abilities of his linemate and Islanders winger PA Parenteau, who has recorded two goals and three assists this month.

“He’s skating,” Capuano said. “We know that he has the skill, the hockey sense and the vision, but the one thing I like about his game right now is that he’s competing hard and he’s skating. When you skate, you can control the play and you’re going to create offense. We moved PA around (in the game against New Jersey) and no matter who we put him with, even the goal that was called back with (Michael) Grabner. Obviously he’s doing something right with his game right now and to me, it’s skating.”

Goaltender Rick DiPietro did not participate in practice on Wednesday morning, as he was feeling ill. If he is feeling healthy, it is most likely that he will play Thursday. In his most recent start on January 15, the goaltender made 40 saves for the win, a feat he’s accomplished for just the ninth time in his career. In his last four starts, the veteran goaltender has recorded wins, posting a 1.99 goals against average and a .945 save percentage.

“When Ricky is going and in the week of practice that he had, he looked really good, but it all depends on how he feels,” Capuano said after addressing that DiPietro missed practice due to illness.




1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYI 63 41 20 2 202 174 84
3 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 61 30 22 9 161 160 69
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 62 25 27 10 139 164 60
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 60 23 30 7 137 159 53
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43


J. Tavares 63 29 35 4 64
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 63 14 26 21 40
B. Nelson 63 17 19 6 36
F. Nielsen 63 11 25 12 36
A. Lee 57 20 12 12 32
J. Bailey 51 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 53 7 22 15 29
N. Leddy 63 8 17 14 25
T. Hamonic 53 4 20 16 24
J. Halak 33 13 0 .911 2.46
C. Johnson 8 7 1 .890 2.95 is the official Web site of the New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P. and are trademarks of New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P.  NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 New York Islanders Hockey Club, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

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