Brooklyn Boro

Capuano sticking with three-headed monster at goalie

Berube Makes Most of Surprise Call-Up from AHL Bridgeport

February 3, 2016 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jean-Francois Berube stopped 40 shots en route to his first career win Tuesday night, lifting the Islanders to a 5-3 triumph over visiting Minnesota at Downtown’s Barclays Center. AP photo
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Islanders head coach Jack Capuano readily admitted that even his own players thought he may have been overplaying his gut instinct.

Capuano opted to start virtual NHL novice Jean-Francois Berube in goal against Minnesota Tuesday night, despite having both Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss healthy and ready to go following the league’s annual All-Star break.

“When I announced it this morning, everyone looked at me like I had three heads,” Capuano ceded shortly after Berube backstopped the Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the visiting Wild in front of 13,331 fans at Downtown Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Berube, claimed off waivers after being released by the Los Angeles Kings in October, had spent the break working his way back from a lower-body injury that cost him 22 games.

He went a sparkling 4-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average in the minors while the Islanders received a week off to gear up for what will doubtlessly be a very busy and challenging second half to their first campaign here in Brooklyn.

“You just look at his save percentage in Bridgeport,” Capuano explained of his decision to ride Berube instead of his two regular netminders. “He deserved the start. He played great.”

After stopping 19 of 20 shots in a hectic opening period, Berube finished with 40 saves on the night as the Islanders used goals from captain John Tavares — the team’s only representative at last weekend’s All-Star festivities in Nashville — Frans Nielsen, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Mikhail Grabovski to improve to 4-1-1 in their last six games.

Berube, who made his first career NHL start in a 4-1 loss to the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 10, admitted that he benefited both from the surprise call-up and a flurry of early opportunities by the Wild.

“It’s better that way,” Berube said of the busy opening stanza. “It helped me get in the game really quick and I felt really comfortable out there. It’s always hard to get the first one and I finally have it.

“Everything happened so quick,” the 24-year-old Quebec native noted. “They told me [Monday] at practice, so I didn’t have too much time to get ready, but the time in Bridgeport helped me to get focused for this game.”

Berube’s first career NHL win coincided with New York’s third five-goal effort in the past six contests.

It also resulted in him receiving a ceremonial puck for the performance, one he sent back home to Montreal with his mother and grandmother after they attended Tuesday night’s game.

“I think all game [Berube] played great,” said Tavares, who won the All-Star shooting accuracy contest over the weekend before picking up his 17th goal of the season and an assist against Minnesota.

“He really made some big saves, and got the first [win],” Tavares added. “He’s worked really hard to get back from injury. He is very talented. Not many people know him since they haven’t seen him all year.”

Opponents may become more accustomed to Berube between the pipes as Capuano insists his three-headed goalie monster will stay in place for the time being.

“We have three goalies. They aren’t going anywhere,” Capuano explained. “It’s not going to change.”

Neither is the Islanders’ determination to make Season One here in Brooklyn a special one as the team is eager to post its first playoff series win since 1993.

“When we put our foot on the gas and smelled blood, we’ve seen the way we can play,” said Tavares. “We should have had more [goals Tuesday], but we just have to keep going, keep trying to get better and keep pushing for another level in our game.”

New York (26-16-6) will travel to our nation’s capital Thursday night to face the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals.

Who will be in net for the Isles that night is anyone’s guess.

Isle Have Another: Nelson potted his team-leading 20th goal with 42 seconds remaining in the second period Tuesday night, snapping a 2-2 deadlock and putting the Isles ahead to stay … Veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk, whom many thought might return to the lineup Tuesday night, missed his 10th straight game with an upper-body injury.  Boychuk could return as soon as Saturday afternoon, when the Isles visit Detroit … The Isles will play 20 of their final 34 contests away from Barclays Center, and began a stretch Tuesday night in which they will play 10 games in 18 days overall.


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