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The red hot New York Islanders spoiled Evgeni Nabokov’s return to Nassau Coliseum by defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The former Islander goalie looked sharp in the first period stopping all 12 shots the Islanders sent his way but the second period he was anything but. Early in the period Tampa Bay surrendered a critical shorthanded goal. Cal Clutterbuck picked Anton Stralman’s pocket and sniped one past Nabby on the short side.

“I thought the Clutterbuck goal was huge tonight,” head coach Jack Capuano said following the win. “He just brings energy. He is a smart hockey player obviously and has some experience. He just plays the game the right way. When you talk about an identify of a hockey club one of the key ingredients is being tough to play against.”

The Islanders got a little bit of an injury scare in the middle of the second period when standout defenseman Johnny Boychuk hobbled to the dressing room. However he did return for the start of the third period. After the game the Islanders did not comment on his status.

After scoring the shorthanded goal the Islanders still looked a little flat and Capuano pressed all the right buttons by shaking up the lines. Without Boychuk on the backend he was forced to mix up the defensive pairs but he also made some moves that could stick in the future.

“We were not generating anything so I had to change it up a bit,” Capuano continued. “I thought for whatever reason our execution was down… The sign of a good team is when other guys step up. I thought Casey’s (Cizikas) line tonight was fantastic. I thought at that time we had to do something. We have done it in the past and you tweak something and it works sometimes it doesn’t. Fortunately tonight it did for us.”

The often-criticized Islanders penalty kill did the job against one of the top ranked power play units in the league. They killed off four minor penalties and Brock Nelson tallied a power play goal tonight.

The Islanders have now won six of the past seven contests they’ve played in placing them in second place in the Metropolitan Division. Coming up they have a home and home series with the first place Pittsburgh Penguins.

“We are obviously going to be up for them (Pittsburgh Penguins) and everyone always gives them their best game,” Anders Lee explained. “We expect the same from them so it will be a good couple of battles.

By: Scott Charles


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