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Final Tuneup

Islanders face Buffalo Friday with a chance to build positive momentum heading into the playoffs

Friday, 04.26.2013 / 2:07 PM / News
By Greg Picker
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Final Tuneup
Islanders face Buffalo Friday with a chance to build positive momentum heading into the playoffs

Thursday night’s 2-1 loss in Philadelphia marked the first time the Islanders didn’t earn at least one point during the entire month of April. Battling hard, but falling in 60 minutes may have been a tough pill to swallow for a team that was trying to ride the momentum of clinching a playoff berth, but the Isles are using the loss for motivation, reminding them that wins won’t come easily in postseason play.

The difficulty of an extended five-game road-trip late in the season will only help the Isles focus on the task at hand. Head Coach Jack Capuano contends that Thursday’s blip might help his squad.

“We faced a little bit of pressure and some adversity, which is good,” Capuano said at Friday’s morning skate in Buffalo.

With 47 games down, only one regular-season contest remains. Buffalo is the third consecutive non-playoff opponent for the Islanders. That does nothing to change Capuano’s mindset.

“We prepare and approach it like any other game,” Capuano said. “I know the guys want to get back to playing the way we want to play. We just have to make sure we play our style.”

That style of play is what led the Islanders to an 8-0-3 record in their 11 games prior to the loss against Philadelphia. More importantly, that style carried the Islanders to their first playoff berth since 2007.

Islanders forward Frans Nielsen implied that the disappointing loss in Philadelphia may have been due to a letdown following the clinch. He remains confident though that the team’s approach will be rectified for Friday’s game.

“With everything on the line this past month and so many must win games, I don’t know if mentally some of us were just not completely there for the first time,” Nielsen said. “You want to go into the playoffs with a good feeling, so we have to get back on track tonight.”

Against Philadelphia, Nielsen and linemates Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey were kept off the score sheet for the first time in five games. Throughout the last two months, they’ve been talked about as one of the best second lines in the NHL. Correcting a few mistakes from Philadelphia and a win in Buffalo would go a long way into building confidence against any opponent the Isles will see in the first round.

“There are a few things we want to clean up and fix system-wise, so we have a great feeling going into the playoffs,” Nielsen said.

Forward Matt Moulson also sees Friday night’s game as an opportunity to build momentum as the Isles head into the postseason.

“I think our focus has been on securing a spot in the playoffs and making sure we’re playing how we want to play going into them,” the Isles’ assists leader said. “Tonight’s another night where we can bounce back and get back to our game.”

When asked if the loss against the Flyers could be a possible spark to get things going again, he added:

“I hope so. We better realize quickly how we have to play in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against, it’s going to be an intense series.”

After splitting the first two matchups this season, Islanders look to take the season series from the Sabres. Every team wants to go into the postseason playing their best hockey. A win against Buffalo could be just what the Isles need to ride the wave into the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NYI 47 32 14 1 155 130 65
2 DET 48 28 11 9 144 123 65
3 TBL 49 30 15 4 158 131 64
4 MTL 46 30 13 3 126 108 63
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 NYR 45 27 14 4 135 110 58
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 45 20 15 10 111 127 50
10 TOR 49 22 23 4 143 152 48
11 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
12 PHI 49 20 22 7 134 149 47
13 CBJ 46 21 22 3 117 145 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 48 14 31 3 90 171 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 47 22 24 -1 46
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 47 9 25 17 34
B. Nelson 47 15 15 6 30
F. Nielsen 47 9 17 5 26
J. Boychuk 37 4 20 17 24
J. Bailey 35 8 14 9 22
N. Leddy 47 7 14 15 21
N. Kulemin 47 11 9 1 20
A. Lee 41 13 5 8 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 26 9 0 .913 2.37
C. Johnson 6 5 0 .870 3.38

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