The Islanders felt they had been the victims of bad luck lately. But the NHL schedule makers gave them a gift last night: the punchless Panthers. Despite a few tense moments after a fast start, the Islanders converted that present into a much-needed two points, in the form of a 3-0 victory in front of 14,512 at the Coliseum to snap a three-game losing streak — all on home ice, and all games they were tied or leading entering the final period. The Islanders (14-15-3, 31 points) were better down the stretch against Florida. They took care of their own zone, made simple and smart plays, and their top line put the game away late. Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves for his third shutout of the season and made sure Andrew MacDonald’s first-period goal stood up until John Tavares and Casey Cizikas added empty-netters in the contest’s final 30 seconds. “It would be nice to see us really take control when we have a lead, run away with one, but it’s good to win a tight one,” Tavares said. “We stuck with it and just kept things simple in the third.” Tavares’ tally made it 2-0, and was the direct result of Brad Boyes taking a slap shot off his leg, the kind of effort Islanders coach Jack Capuano has wanted to see more out of his team. “We got rewarded,” Capuano said. “We sacrificed our bodies, we blocked shots, 34 hits again tonight, good goaltending, good special teams.” The Islanders didn’t perform poorly in the three losses proceeding this win, but the Senators, Penguins and Canadiens made them pay for their mistakes and inability to sustain a high level of play, whereas the Panthers, one of four teams with less points in the Eastern Conference than the Islanders, couldn’t.
Blank-et statement for Nabokov, Isles
New York Post | Mar 25