Game recap: Islanders 5 — Penguins 4 (SO)

Recap: The Islanders couldn’t protect two two-goal leads in regulation, but Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo scored in the shootout to give the Islanders the win in a matchup of Metropolitan Division leaders.

Need to Know: Ryan Strome had a goal and two assists for the Islanders, who outshot Pittsburgh 13-5 in the first period and scored three times in the first 10 minutes.

The Islanders are 4-0 in shootouts; Pittsburgh is 2-1.

Pittsburgh, which outshot the Isles 18-6 in the was 8-1-0 in its previous nine against the Islanders.

The Islanders won at least 12 of its first 18 games for the first time since starting 13-4-1 in 1987-88.

Sidney Crosby, who had the only Pitsburgh goal in three attempts in the shootout, did not have a point in regulation.

The Islanders and Penguins are two of five NHL teams to have three players or more with 18-plus points; the other three are San Jose, Tampa Bay and St. Louis.

Links: Box Score

What’s Next: The Islanders and Pittsburgh meet again Saturday at Nassau Coliseum at 7 p.m.

Game day (19): Islanders at Penguins, 7 pm

Consol Energy Center — Pittsburgh, PA
TV: MSG Radio: WRHU 88.7 FM, WRCN 103.9 FM

The Least You Should Know About the Penguins… Pittsburgh announced on Wednesday that Pascal Dupuis would miss the next six months due to a blood clot in his lung… The penguins own the best power play in the NHL at the moment. They have a 33.8 power play percentage so far and have 38.2 power play percentage at home… Sidney Crosby leads the Pens in points with 26 (eight goals, 18 assists) and Patric Hornqvist leads the team in goals with nine.

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

The Islanders are off to their best start through the first 18 games of the year since 1977-78 and they will look to keep that going in Pittsburgh.

Friday marks the first game of a home-and-home against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins beat the Islanders in the first meeting of the 2014-15 season 3-1 back on October 18. The Islanders went 1-2-1 against Pittsburgh last season.

Jack Capuano will start Chad Johnson in net. Johnson was drafted by the Penguins in 2006, but never actually played for the organization. The rest of the Islanders lineup will remain the same as it was on Tuesday.

Michael Grabner skated Friday morning, but he will not play. Capuano had said earlier in the week that Grabner could return to the lineup as soon as this weekend.

Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal for the Penguins and former Islander Blake Comeau will take over Pascal Dupuis’s top line spot.

John Tavares’ report card, presented by Long Island University

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

John Tavares is tied for the points lead on the Islanders, with 18, and second on the team in goals, with seven.

Long Island University SmallThe numbers are nothing to scoff at, for sure, but Tavares hasn’t played Tavares like hockey really this season. He has certainly had moments of impressive play and by no means is this saying that Tavares has seen a drop off in play. However the Islander captain has not had the take-over game play that was seen last season. In the month of November, Tavares recorded six points, with just three of them being goals.

“Do I think I could be better than where I’m at now? Sure,” Tavares told Newsday. “But we’re playing good hockey, we’re doing the right things and we’ve got a good group where everyone contributes. We need everyone to have success.”

And thats the biggest difference for the Islanders, who have relied heavily on their start forward i seasons past. Tavares will certainly pick up his game more and more as the season continues, but he is not off to a bad start.

Grade: B

Isles and Nets exchange jerseys prior to Wednesday night’s game

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

It’s no secret that the Islanders and Nets will soon become corporate cousins when the Isles move to the Barclays Center next season.

It will be a reunion of sorts since the Islanders and Nets used to both play at Nassau Coliseum before the basketball team was moved to New Jersey in 1977. Now they will be, as the Barclays Center is dubbing it, “two teams reunited in Brooklyn.”

On Wednesday night several players exchanged jerseys prior to tip-off between the Nets and Milwaukee Bucks.

Casey Cizikas, Nick Leddy, Brock Nelson, Thomas Hickey, Matt Martin, and Anders Lee made the trip to Brooklyn for the jersey exchange. Mason Plumlee, Mirza Teletovic, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jorge Gutierrez, Cory Jefferson and Markel Brown were the Nets players who took part in the ceremony.

The Nets even put together a short video that played during the pre-game ceremony.

Unfortunately for the Nets, the Islanders presence at the Barclays Center could not help propel them to a win. The Isles have won six of their last seven games and the Nets… Well the Nets have not.

Maybe the Islanders will bring their basketball brethren luck next time around.

Practice report: Capuano mixes up lines, Boychuk given a maintenance day

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Islanders’ Head Coach Jack Capuano mixed up his lines in the middle of the game Tuesday night and did so again on Wednesday at practice.

Brock Nelson and Nikolay Kulemin moved to the Islanders top line for practice. Kyle Okposo practiced alongside Frans Nielsen and Mikhail Grabovski. Michael Grabner skated with the Islanders fourth line and scratched forward Cory Conacher skated on the third line Ryan Strome, Anders Lee and Josh Bailey.

“We’re just trying to get the best chemistry lines going and make sure top to bottom we’re balanced,” Lee said about the line jumbling. “Sometimes a little change up is good and…it’s going to make things better for us.” To read more of this story, click here

Nabokov loses in return to Nassau Coliseum

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Evgeni Nabokov hadn’t touched Nassau Coliseum ice since April 5, prior to Tuesday Night.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York IslandersThat was the last time Nabokov wore an Islander sweater and guarded the net at the barn in Uniondale. Tuesday marked his return to the building he called home for three seasons.

Nabokov’s tenure on Long Island was an interesting one. At first he did not want to play for the Islanders and then eventually fell in love with the place. Nabokov ended up playing 123 regular season games with the Isles and another six games in the playoff in 2013.

His return to Nassau Coliseum did not go the way he would have liked it to go though. Nabokov surrendered five goals Tuesday night in a 5-2 Tampa Bay Lightning loss to the Islanders.

Islander fans even began sarcastically chanting “Nab-by, Nab-by” as the Islander lead swelled in the third period. To read more of this story, click here

Mid-game line changes help propel Isles to 5-2 win

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Islanders coach Jack Capuano has never been one to hesitate to change up the lines when he thinks things are not going the way they should.

On Tuesday night, that proved to be the game changer for the Islanders, as the shakeup propelled his squad to a 5-2 win over Tampa Bay. Line changes in the second period helped facilitate four more Islander goals after Cal Clutterbuck scored shorthanded 39 seconds into the second period.

The Islanders were not generating as many chances as Capuano would have liked through the first 20 minutes of Tuesday’s rematch against the Lightning, which led to his decision to shake things up in the second period. To read more of this story, click here