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Morning Skate Updates 1/31/14

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
The Islanders and Rangers wrap up their season series tonight at Madison Square Garden. The rivals are very familiar with each other, as this will be their third game in 11 days and second in as many games. The series is tied 2-2, so this one is for the win. The road team has won all four meetings and the Islanders have won three straight on Broadway dating back to last February.

Ahead of tonight’s game, the Islanders held a morning skate at the Garden while the Rangers did not. Here are some news, notes and quotes from today’s skate.

Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin shot on Evgeni Nabokov at Islanders morning skate.

Lineup Notes/Changes:

Nabokov Starts: Evgeni Nabokov gets the start in goal tonight for the Islanders. Nabokov looked sharp in his first start since Jan. 6, stopping 32-of-34 shots at Yankee Stadium.

Evgeni Nabokov will start tonight for the Islanders.

Road Islanders: The Islanders are 9-2-0 in their last 11 road games, including a pair of 5-3 wins at the Garden.

Career Highs: Through 56 games, Kyle Okposo has already surpassed his previous career highs of 52 points and 33 assists. Frans Nielsen has surpassed his previous career high of 17 goals.

Okposo: Kyle Okposo has 11 goals and 12 assists in his last 16 games.

Kyle Okposo on the ice at Islanders morning skate.

Vanek’s Garden: Thomas Vanek has scored two game-winning goals for the Islanders at Madison Square Garden this season.

NHL Scoring Race:
John Tavares ranks second in NHL scoring with 64 points (23g/41a) while Kyle Okposo is tied for sixth with 57 points (23g/34a).

John Tavares after a drill at Islanders morning skate.

Third Line: The Islanders third line of Michael Grabner, Brock Nelson and Cal Clutterbuck has combined for seven points (three goals, four assists) in its last four games.

Capuano on the third line: I think it’s been one of our best lines. [Nelson] is doing a great job on draws, they are playing simple hockey, they are doing the right things and when you do those things you have success.

The Islanders third line of Grabner-Nelson-Clutterbuck on the ice at Islanders morning skate.

Nelson on the third line: We are just playing hard, simple hockey. Grabs has tremendous speed, he flies up and down the wing and creates a lot of space for himself. Clutter does a good job of playing physical and makes smart, simple plays as well. We just try to feed off one another and capitalize.

From the Coach: You’ve got to want it. You have to go out there and let your work ethic dictate the scoreboard. Whether we lose games or win games, I want to see this team work, play structured and play within the framework. If we do that, we give ourselves a chance and I thought we did some good things over the last few games.

The top line takes a shot on Evgeni Nabokov at Islanders morning skate.

Kevin Poulin makes a save at Islanders morning skate.

Matt Martin skates away from Kevin Poulin at Islanders morning skate.

Brock Nelson catches his breath at Islanders morning skate.

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