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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 / News
By Greg Picker
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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
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
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
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

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
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
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 0 .911 2.46
C. Johnson 8 7 1 .890 2.95

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