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Gearing Up For Florida

After earning a point Saturday against the rival Rangers, the Islanders must maintain a playoff-like intensity in Tuesday's home finale

Monday, 04.15.2013 / 4:02 PM ET / News
By Greg Picker
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Gearing Up For Florida
Evgeni Nabokov stopped all 26 shots faced, including three from Marcel Goc, the last time the Islanders and Panthers met (Photo: Getty Images).

Coming off the most highly-anticipated game of the season, a playoff-like thriller against the cross-town-rival New York Rangers, the New York Islanders find themselves tasked with maintaining their energy level and focus Tuesday against the Florida Panthers.

Thirteen-hundred miles and 15 standings points separate the Islanders from Tuesday’s opponent, but the two points at stake in the Islanders’ final home game are just as critical to the playoff picture as those awarded Saturday.

“It’s such a big game and every point is crucial,” Streit said Monday. “We need a win and they’re a hard-working team. We have to be ready and we’ve got to play 100%. We have to bring exactly the same intensity as we have in every game recently.”

It’s easy for players to get excited for a rivalry game, especially with so much on the line late in the regular season. This season the Islanders have proven themselves capable of avoiding a post-Rangers let down, going 2-1-0 in the matchups immediately following Rangers games. In their only post-Rangers loss this season, the Isles outshot Buffalo 43-15 in a 3-2 defeat on February 9.

“I think we’ve set a standard and I think we hold ourselves accountable inside this dressing room more than anything else,” Hamonic said, coming off a performance in which he stymied Rangers’ leading scorer Rick Nash. “Good teams have that standard, that work ethic, and that game plan, game-in and game-out and that’s the most important thing.”

The game plan has translated most notably on defense during the team’s playoff push. The Islanders are 8-1-2 in the last 11 games and have allowed just 15 regulation goals in that stretch (1.36 goals per game). They’ve allowed just one goal in each of their last three games and conceded two or fewer in eight consecutive contests.

With six games remaining in the regular season, Head Coach Jack Capuano believes it’s less about the X’s and O’s and more about the determination level that the team brings to the rink every night.

“At this time of the year, the teams that work the hardest win hockey games,” Capuano said. “It’s not structure and it’s not systems. Goaltending and special teams are a big part of it, but it’s how you play and how you battle.”

Perhaps bolstering the team’s battle level, two of the last three home games have been sell outs. With Tuesday night marking the final home game of the regular season, leading scorer John Tavares knows how much the team can count on the fans for an extra boost.

“You could see the last few nights the energy, the intensity level and the passion they have and the way we’ve fed off that,” Tavares said. “It’s our final home game. We have to take advantage of that and we want to finish the year at home on a good note, sending a good message to our fans.”

The playoff push continues Tuesday night in what will be another raucous environment at the “Old Barn on Hempstead Turnpike.” Hopefully for the Islanders and their fans, it will only be a short two-week hiatus until the next home game.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Okposo 49 15 26 -7 41
J. Tavares 48 19 21 -4 40
F. Nielsen 51 15 18 0 33
B. Nelson 51 20 11 1 31
M. Grabovski 51 9 15 2 24
J. Bailey 50 9 15 5 24
N. Leddy 51 3 20 -8 23
A. Lee 51 7 15 1 22
R. Strome 40 5 14 -6 19
C. Clutterbuck 50 11 4 6 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 12 11 4 .917 2.28
T. Greiss 14 6 2 .929 2.26
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