Islanders welcome in Jets for home finale
Wednesday, 04.04.2012 / 3:44 PMJETS (37-34-9) at ISLANDERS (33-36-11)
TV: TSN-JETS (HD), MSG PLUS 2 (HD)
Winnipeg 4-5-1; NY Islanders 5-5-0
All three games so far have gone to the visiting team, the Jets opening the series in November with a 3-0 win on the Island, the Islanders taking the two games at MTS Centre in a shootout and in regulation.
With both teams out of the playoff picture, the question now is how they address their remaining games. The Jets have kept up the hard work, stalling the Panthers' clinching of the Southeast Division with a 5-4 overtime win in Sunrise, while the Islanders have drawn the ire of coach Jack Capuano for some lackluster play after being eliminated from contention by the Bruins on Saturday. It's the Isles' final home game of the season, as they will wrap it up Saturday in Columbus.
No mailing it in for this bunch. After dropping three in a row to make an early vacation inevitable, the Jets opened a four-game road trip with three straight overtime games, winning two of them on goals by Andrew Ladd
. They overcame a 3-0 second-period deficit on Tuesday with four unanswered goals and Ladd finished the job with his second tally of the evening. The Jets made their motive clear -- to play hard for the fans who embraced them so enthusiastically after the franchise moved from Atlanta.
"We can't quit. This is the NHL and here you play for the logo on the front of the jersey and not for yourself," goalie Ondrej Pavelec
told the Winnipeg Free Press.
"We can't quit on our fans. They've been so good to us this year and we know they are watching on TV at home. We want to be good for them on Thursday in Long Island, too. And that last game on Saturday at home in Winnipeg is going to be so special. They have been such a big part of this season. We're disappointed that we're not going to the playoffs and we know they are, too. So we can't let them down in these final games. We have to do it for them."
It's not unusual for a team to take a day off in the aftermath of a back-to-back, but coach Jack Capuano had the Islanders practice on Monday after a pair of disappointing losses over the weekend, the first, a 6-3 drubbing at the hands of the Bruins, ending their slim playoff hopes. The second, an even more one-sided 5-1 loss to the Senators, made Capuano question whether his players' minds were in the game.
"I don't know if we, as a whole, all were mentally invested" in the game on Sunday, Capuano said to Newsday. "I think that had something to do with it. You know, you train all summer, you work all year, you find out you haven't reached the goal that you wanted to reach, I'm sure there is some disappointment. And there is as a coaching staff as well."
The funk continued on Tuesday as the Devils lulled them into a 3-1 loss at the Prudential Center. One bright spot, however, was the NHL debut of Oklahoma native Matt Donovan, called up after leading the Bridgeport Sound Tigers defensemen in scoring. He turned in a solid 21:52 of ice time, often against Ilya Kovalchuk's line, blocking three shots.
Who's Hot: Evander Kane
scored his 30th goal against the Panthers on Tuesday to become the third NHL player under the age of 21 to score 30 goals this season. John Tavares
and Jordan Eberle are the other two. … Matt Moulson
scored the lone goal for the Islanders on Tuesday, giving him 35 on the season for the first time in his career and making him the first Islander to do so since Jason Blake in 2006-07.
Jets forwards Tanner Glass
(broken left foot) and Kyle Wellwood
(broken right foot) will have the summer to heal. Forward Eric Fehr
(upper body) had tests done on Tuesday, but results were not disclosed. … Islanders forward Casey Cizikas
(upper body) is officially day-to-day, while goalie Evgeni Nabokov
(lower body) has said he wants to get back in the lineup before the season ends, but time is running out.
Ladd's pair of overtime winners in the last three games were his first of the season, making him the 20th player in the NHL to have at least that many. … Tavares' assist on Moulson's goal Tuesday gave him his 200th NHL point and put him one helper behind linemate PA Parenteau
for the team lead. Mark Streit
's assist on the same goal gives him 150 points as an Islander.
"It does please me. To me there are a couple of signs and signals and it's because you are led in the room. Guys have pride and they are well led. … I like the fact that we're playing to win games. We're not quitting and we're not getting down. We're trying to find ways to get it done. I can't say enough about our leaders." -- Jets coach Claude Noel in the Free Press on the team's continued effort as the season winds down