Recap: The Islanders blew a late two-goal lead but responded to win a wild one on Thursday night in Nashville.
Need to Know: John Tavares gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead at the 11:24 mark of the first period when his wraparound shot beat Pekka Rinne. With 1:30 to go in the first period, Anders Lee scored on the power play to increase New York’s lead to 2-0. With just a few seconds left in the first, Colin Wilson’s goal beat the buzzer to pull Nashville within 2-1.
The Isles held the Predators to just five shots on goal in a scoreless second period.
At the 8:39 mark of the third period, shortly after the Predators rang a shot off the post, Nick Leddy scored to increase the Isles’ lead to 3-1. Just over a minute later, the Predators deflected one past Jaroslav Halak to cut New York’s lead to 3-2. Less than a minute later, Craig Smith wristed one past Halak from in close to tie things, 3-3.
The Isles answered back with 6:08 to go in the third when Brock Nelson put one past Rinne to put New York back in front, 4-3. The Predators emptied their net for an extra attacker with a bit over two minutes to go in the game, but the Isles held on for the victory.
Links: AP recap | Box Score
What’s Next: The Isles travel to Florida to take on the Panthers on Saturday night at 7.
The Islanders (41-21-3) continue their four-game road trip on Thursday night against the Predators at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The game will air on MSG + and can be heard on 88.7 WRHU and 103.9 LI News.
The Predators (41-17-7) have lost four straight games but remain in first place in the Central Division in the West.
Pekka Rinne will start in net for Nashville, opposed by Jaroslav Halak for the Isles.
The Isles will be getting both Casey Cizikas and Eric Boulton back on Thursday night.
New York has lost six straight games at Bridgestone Arena.
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
The Islanders will get some reinforcements Thursday night when they take on the Nashville Predators.
The Islanders are down a few forwards with Kyle Okposo and Mikhail Grabovski still hurt. In addition, Tyler Kennedy is headed back to Long Island for evaluation on an upper-body injury and Matt Martin is suspended for one game because of a knee-on-knee hit in Tuesday’s loss.
On Thursday, they’ll get back Casey Cizikas, who has has been sidelined with a lower-body injury, and Eric Boulton will play in his first game since December 11 in St. Louis.
Cizikas has been an important piece of the Islanders’ successful fourth line. He is appearing in his first games since February 16.
Boulton brings a physical brand of hockey to lineup. He has only played in four games this season and has a combined three shots on goal during those contests.
The Islanders’ forward depth has really been tested as of late and took another hit when Kennedy revealed he was hurt and Martin was suspended. Kennedy reportedly told Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano late Tuesday that he could not play, catching him off guard. Losing Matt Martin for Thursday’s game didn’t help the situation.
The fourth line has cooled down, but when it is performing at its best it is one of the team’s strongest lines.
Kael Mouillierat will be scratched.
Jaroslav Halak will start in net once again. He gave up three goals in the Isles 3-2 overtime loss to Dallas on Tuesday. Halak made 30 saves against Nashville on February 19, when the Isles won 5-2.
Matt Martin has been suspended one game for his knee-to-knee hit Dallas defenseman Trevor Daley.
Martin was given a five minute major and a game misconduct for the hit, which occurred just under two minutes into the Islanders’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Stars on Tuesday.
Casey Cizikas is likely to return to the lineup to take Martin’s place on Thursday night in Nashville.
It’s a shame that Martin will have to sit out, because I think it’s clear there was no intent to injure on the hit. The fact that Martin only got one game is indicative that the NHL saw it similarly. Still, Daley will be out a while as a result of the dangerous play, so it’s not surprising to see him get disciplined.
Let’s welcome a new addition in net. Brian Compton and Christian Arnold discuss the Chad Johnson-Michal Neuvirth swap and Nick Leddy’s contract extension. Plus, Brian chats with Stephen Lorenzo of the Daily News about where the team stands with just five weeks left in the regular season.
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Newly acquired forward Tyler Kennedy (upper body injury) will head to Long Island for further evaluation of his injury (Staple, Mar 4).
Casey Cizikas (lower body) could join the team in Nashville as soon as later in the day, Jack Capuano told reporters on Wednesday.
Staple says that Cizikas could play on Thursday against the Predators, particuarly if Matt Martin is suspended for his knee-to-knee hit on Trevor Daley.
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
Matt Martin will have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Saftey for his hit on Dallas Stars defenseman Trevor Daley.
Martin was given a game misconduct and a kneeing major 1:48 into Tuesday’s overtime loss to the Stars. Daley left the game and did not return. He is expected to miss “weeks,” according to Stars Coach Lindy Ruff. The hearing will be over the phone, according to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, so that limits the length of a suspension to five games, should he receives one.
There is no question that Martin catches Daley on the knee, but it’s hard to say that there was intent on the part of Martin. Watching the video it appears Martin went for a hit on Daley, but he moved and and Martin caught him with his knee. Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano did not see intent either when discussing the hit after the game.
“I watched it on the replay and I saw that he was planted,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “In my view, he’s planted and there was no intent. First of all, he’s not that kind of a player. He’s an honest guy. It’s unfortunate and hopefully Daley is OK moving forward. I didn’t see it, it was a tweener for me. It was unfortunate for both guys and hopefully he’ll be alright.”
Ruff, understandably, had a different view on what happened.
“That’s a suspension,” he said. “It’s another stupid hit that makes you just shake your head. We’ve already lost our best forward [Seguin] and now we’ve lost probably our best defenseman for a period of time on a play that just wasn’t necessary.”