Islanders notebook: Team remains focused in moment
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — No panic.
That was the theme emanating from the New York Islanders' locker room Friday morning following an optional skate and video study at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders trail the top-seeded Penguins, 3-2, in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal series after being routed, 4-0, on Thursday night at Consol Energy Center. Game 6 is Saturday night on Long Island.
It will mark the first time since April 28, 2002, that a team could clinch a series on Coliseum ice. The Islanders defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 5-3, that day in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal to force a Game 7. Toronto won Game 7, 4-2, at Air Canada Centre.
“We've been in these must-win situations before,” coach Jack Capuano said. “Our guys have responded pretty well. We're at home. Hopefully we'll have that barn rocking again, like we had the previous two games, where we can feed off (the crowd) and just be ready to win a hockey game.”
Nabokov keeps job
Evgeni Nabokov will not join Marc-Andre Fleury on the bench.
Capuano announced Nabokov will be in goal Saturday. Nabokov has struggled in the series, posting a 4.69 goals-against average and .847 save percentage and was pulled in Games 1 and 5 in favor of reserve Kevin Poulin.
“I (have) confidence in Nabokov to go with him. He'll start. There's no surprise. Just move along with him,” Capuano said. “He's a veteran guy. He's probably harder on himself than anyone else. He knows how he has to play.”
Center Frans Nielsen is a game-time decision with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald is out six to eight weeks after having surgery on his hand.
Denis Gorman is a freelance writer.