Capuano’s silence is golden in Isles’ win
Coach Remains Mum as New York Rallies for 3-2 Win Over Panthers
Some things are better left unsaid.
As bad as the Islanders played during the first two periods of Monday night’s showdown with the visiting Florida Panthers, head coach Jack Capuano opted to bite his tongue and let his players find a way to snap out of their funk during the intermission before the third stanza.
“I didn’t really want to break anything,” Capuano said of his decision not to lace into his slumbering squad, which trailed Florida, 2-0, and was being outshot 18-11 following the first 40 minutes.
“It’s their team,” he added. “It’s the leaders at this point in time of the year. That was probably the reason we felt as a staff to let the guys handle it and do what they need to do.”
They handled it all right.
Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey and Cal Clutterbuck scored during a whirlwind 5 1/2-minute stretch of the final period, spearheading the Islanders to a 3-2 victory over the Panthers in front of 14,106 fans at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
With the win, New York moved four points ahead of wild card-leading Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division standings, and within a single point of the second-place New York Rangers in the race for home ice in the opening round of the upcoming playoffs.
Perhaps more importantly, the Islanders learned that they can come on strong down the stretch without their head coach going to the whip as he so often has during this inaugural campaign in our fair borough.
“We were going to lose a hockey game if we didn’t change the way we were playing,” said Okposo, whose 18th goal of the season ignited the decisive three-tally barrage. “We did a good job of tilting the ice and taking it to them.”
“It’s the sign of a mature team,” added Clutterbuck, who capped the comeback with a back-handed jam shot past Panthers netminder Roberto Luongo with 1:49 remaining in regulation. “It’s that type of group, that type of team.”
Thomas Greiss made 23 saves for New York, which was scheduled to visit the Penguins for a key Eastern Conference matchup Tuesday night.
Bailey, who evened the contest at 2-2 on his stuff home off a rebound of a shot by team captain John Tavares with 5:49 to play, knows that every game, and every point, is critical if the Islanders hope to grab a postseason spot, host a playoff series and win one for the first time since 1993.
“There’s plenty of motivation at this point of the year,” he said. “These are the games you think about from the time the summer starts, until the season starts, until now. You’re just building for this stretch. We want to keep progressing in the right direction and tonight was a good one.
“I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out that the first 35 minutes were some of our worst minutes,” Clutterbuck admitted. “With that being said, the third period was a big third period for us. [We got] two points. We’re moving on.”
Isle Have Another: With Jaroslav Halak continuing to recover from a groin (lower-body) injury, Greiss has started three straight games in net since the Isles’ starting goalie went down with the injury in a March 8 win over Pittsburgh at Barclays Center. Though he didn’t officially announce who would be in net against the Penguins Tuesday night, Capuano has used two goalies in back-to-back game situations throughout the campaign. That opened the door for rookie Jean-Francois Berube to get the start in the key game against Pittsburgh. “I’ve been staying ready,” Berube told the Islanders’ website last Friday. “In practices I work hard and do the things I have to do to be ready and jump in. Obviously you never want to see a guy go down, but that’s part of the game and why we are carrying three goalies. I’m ready and I’m really excited for the opportunity.” Berube is 1-1 with a 3.21 goals-against average in three appearances, including two starts, for the Isles this season. He picked up his first, and thus far only, NHL win between the pipes in a 5-3 win over Minnesota here in Brooklyn on Feb. 2.
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