New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
More forwards hope to get on the score sheet as the Isles faceoff with the Bolts at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday at 7p.m.
Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 12:00 AM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
|Team Record: 1-1-0
Last Game: 2-1 W vs. MIN
Season Series: -
|Team Record: 1-1-1
Last Game: 6-5 SOL @ WSH
Season Series: -
With just two goals in the first two games, the Islanders as a whole are looking to create some more offensive chances. As it stands, Tavares is just one of the forwards looking to get himself on the scoresheet.
Although he stands without a goal or an assist, he was instrumental in Frans Nielsen's game-winning goal Monday afternoon. He entered the offensive zone with the puck and then changed up, letting Nielsen - with a fresh pair of legs - skate into the zone and find a fake-out shot turned pass from defenseman Mark Streit.
"I'm working as hard as I can, but I'm not trying to force an issue," Tavares said about scoring. "I only had 3 shots on goal in my first two games, so I probably need to shoot more, but I don’t think I'm really forcing a whole lot... I thought I created a lot of opportunities, especially in the first period (on Monday). We had some good offensive time before all the penalties came and slowed the flow of the game."
He added, "(I'm going to) keep moving my feet and be strong on the puck and take advantage of my opportunities."
Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano isn't worried. He knows a goal will come with time.
He said, "Well Johnny, he's had a lot of chances. He’s played really well defensively. His game in his own end is as good as it's ever been. I know over two games he's -2, but he’s played real well defensively. As far as his chances, he’s had some, but the puck hasn’t gone in. Eventually they will."
Gervais spent his entire career professional career with the Islanders until the Lightning picked him up this offseason. Although he was a healthy scratch in the Bolts first two games of the 2011-12 season, he recorded a goal and an assist in his Lightning debut against the Washington Capitals on Monday.
"I caught the end of the game the other night and he had a goal and an assist," Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. "He was a big part of this organization for a number of years, so I'm looking forward to seeing him."
Last season, a trade deadline transaction sent Roloson to the Lightning. He carried them through to the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where they ultimately fell in Game 7 to the eventual Champions, the Boston Bruins.
This season, Roloson will be the Lightning's number one guy in net and will play a lot of minutes. With one win and a shootout loss in two games thus far, the former Islanders netminder has recorded a .921 save percentage and 2.88 goals against average.
If he receives the nod from Lightning Head Coach Guy Boucher, the Islanders forwards know they'll be in for a challenge.
"He battles for every puck," Islanders forward Matt Moulson said. "He never really gives up on a play. When you get chances, you have to make sure you bear down and are around that net the whole time. Having guys there for rebounds and screens make it difficult to see the puck and make saves."
|In the Islanders first two games of the 2011-12 season, the team has played one 20-minute period the way that the coaching staff has talked about. They were quick, moved their feet and spent more time in the offensive zone than the defensive zone, which resulted in two goals.
The other five periods haven’t been bad hockey, the team’s penalty killers have just had more than their share of work. The Islanders took a total of 15 penalties in their first two games, and killed 11-of-12 of their oppositions’ power plays.
"We just have to play better for the whole game," Islanders center Frans Nielsen said. "Our first period last game was great; we created so many chances. Guys like JT (Tavares) dominated the ice and then we ran into all those penalties."
As a result, players like Tavares and his linemate Matt Moulson haven’t played nearly the amount of minutes they’re used to.
"Some guys are not on the PK and they have to sit out there for so long and they don’t get to touch the ice," Nielsen said. "It's tough to stay consistent then. I think the penalties was the biggest problem last game."
With back-to-back 5-on-3 kills in Monday's matinee against the Minnesota Wild, the team’s top offensive line sat out of the game for upwards of five minutes straight.
“The refs are doing the best they can,” Tavares said. “They call what they see, and you know, we just have to deal with it and battle through it sometimes. Our PK has been tremendous the first two games and obviously the biggest reason why we won our first game (against the Minnesota Wild).”
Tavares added, “If we can try to be a little more disciplined, especially when we had a good start like we did last game, it’ll help us out to keep momentum and create scoring opportunities and draw a few penalties ourselves."
Season Series: First of four, the Islanders have taken three of four three times in four seasons. Last season, the lone win for the Bolts came at Nassau Coliseum, a 4-2 win last Nov. 17.
Big story: Long road trips are always tough, and this is the fourth of five games away from the St. Pete Times Forum for the Lightning at the start of the season while the renovations are being completed. They've filled all three columns in the standings so far, with a win in Carolina, a loss to the Bruins and a point on Monday in a 6-5 shootout loss in Washington, their third game in four nights. They have one more road game Saturday at Florida. The Islanders got outhustled by the Panthers in their season opener in a 2-0 loss Saturday and did the same to the Wild on Monday, at least for one period, in a 2-1 win. Their four-game homestand concludes with the Rangers on Saturday, followed by a trip to the Sunshine State to face the Bolts and Panthers.
Lightning: The 6-5 loss to the Caps was, as one might expect, a case of a lot done right and just a little more done wrong. They had scoring chances, capitalized on some, and at least offensively, had a nice bounce-back night after being held to one goal in Boston. Defensively, they found themselves out of position too often for coach Guy Boucher's taste, so defense was the emphasis of an intense practice on Tuesday.
"We're not quite on the same page, whatever the reason," defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron told the St. Petersburg Times. "It seems like we kind of forgot over the summer. Now we're back at it. It needs some focus, needs some attention. Guys are realizing now that we just can't show up at the rink and play. We have to be thinking and knowing what we're doing."
Islanders: The first period of the Islanders' Columbus Day matinee against the Wild gave fans a sample of what the Isles can do when they're on their game. (Continue Reading)
|- Jeremy Colliton - Groin (9/23 at BOS) - 2 games missed (Out indefinitely)
-Milan Jurcina - Groin (9/27 at CGY) - 2 games missed (Day-to-day)
- Mark Katic - Shoulder (9/24 vs. NJ) - 2 games missed (Out indefinitely)
- Rhett Rakhshani - Concussion (9/27 at CGY) - 2 games missed (Out indefinitely)
- Trevor Gillies - Groin (9/30 at NJ) - 2 games missed (Day-to-day)
- Nino Niederreiter - Groin (9/30 at NJ) - 2 games missed (Day-to-day)
IslandersPower Play %: 16.7%
Penalty Kill %: 91.7%
Home Record: 1-1-0
Goals For: 2
Goals Against: 3
LightningPower Play %: 13.3%
Penalty Kill %: 100%
Away Record: 1-1-1
Goals For: 11
Goals Against: 11
Tonight's matchup is the Islanders' and Lightning's first meeting since March 22, 2011. The Islanders defeated the Bolts 5-2 as Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo and Matt Martin got the early tallies. Frans Neilsen and Michael Grabner added to the win as they each scored a shorthanded goal.
(Answer from 10/10: In 40-years of Islanders history, the Islanders have had 19 different goaltenders start the first game of the season.)
Check out the Islanders depth chart.
The team will roll with the same lineup as the first two games with the exception of goaltending. Evgeni Nabokov will backup Al Montoya.
Rick DiPietro and Milan Jurcina will be the scratches.
Lightning (Expected) LineupsForwards:
Bottom six could be any combination of:
Shannon, Moore, Connolly, Thompson, Ritola, Hall, Jones
Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald: "The Lightning have one of the best one-two combos in the league. We have to be aware of them and be aware of where they're at (on the ice). It's our job as defenseman to be able to challenge that."
According to Islanders center John Tavares, they have to be smart about the puck: “A team like Tampa has a lot of guys with a lot of skill that can make plays. They don’t need a whole lot of room or time to beat you and make plays. For us, it’s being smart out there but at the same time, (Capuano) wants us to be creative and create opportunities for ourselves. And I think for guys like me and our other guys that produce a lot offensively do well at that, but we have to make sure to find that fine line (without getting too fancy).”