UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Rick DiPietro will get his third straight start when the New York Islanders play host to the Washington Capitals tonight, but the cast in front of him has been rearranged. With his team mired in a six-game losing streak and stuck in an offensive slump, coach Jack Capuano has completely revamped his lines.
John Tavares, who has seven of the Isles' 18 goals, will center the top line with Matt Moulson on the right side and Michael Grabner moving up and playing on the left. Frans Nielsen, Grabner's usual center, will have PA Parenteau, Tavares' regular right wing, and Brian Rolston, who moves up from the third line, on the left.
Marty Reasoner moves from the fourth line to the third and will center Blake Comeau and Kyle Okposo -- who usually plays with Nielsen and Grabner. Josh Bailey, who hasn't had a point in 11 games this season, will center a fourth line with Jay Pandolfo and Matt Martin.
"Obviously we haven't been scoring many goals," Capuano said. "We've got to do something."
Capuano did not tell his players about the changes until this morning; Friday's practice was run using the pairings that the Isles had maintained through their first 11 games.
"It doesn't matter who you play with," he said. "You have to do the little things."
DiPietro will make his third straight start, with Al Montoya dressing as his backup. Evgeni Nabokov continues to recover from a lower-body injury; Capuano said he's close to being at full strength and will skate Sunday.
The Capitals, who come to Nassau Coliseum with a 9-2-0 record after winning 5-1 at Carolina on Saturday, probably wouldn't be Capuano's choice of opponent as his team goes for its first win in three weeks. The Caps won their first seven games, lost at Edmonton and Vancouver, then bounced back by beating Anaheim and Carolina this week. They are also 11-0-3 in their last 14 games against the Isles.
"They have some guys who are obviously very skilled. Time and space are something that we have to take away as much as we can," Capuano said when asked about slowing down an attack that includes Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. "We can't let their fourth man beat us up the ice. We have to be very disciplined in our own end."
Here is the projected lineup for the Islanders:
Michael Grabner – John Tavares – Matt Moulson
Brian Rolston – Frans Nielsen – PA Parenteau
Blake Comeau – Marty Reasoner – Kyle Okposo
Matt Martin – Josh Bailey – Jay Pandolfo
Mark Streit – Steve Staios
Andrew MacDonald – Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton – Milan Jurcina