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Islanders back home to face Holtby, Capitals

by Brian Compton /


TV: NBC, TVA Sports, SN

Best-of-7 series tied 1-1

The New York Islanders will play their first home game of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on Sunday.

The Islanders met for 10 minutes as a group before hitting the ice for practice Saturday. The message from coach Jack Capuano was simple: Forget about what happened Friday, when New York blew two two-goal leads and failed to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Washington Capitals.

The focus needs to be solely on Game 3.

"I thought it was a spirited practice," Capuano said. "You've got to have a short memory. It doesn't matter if you've got a five-goal lead or you lose by a goal or you lose 7-1. It's behind you now. We went there, we [won] a game. If you could have told us that before the series, we'd take it. We're coming back home here and the series is tied at [1-1]."

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby missed Game 2 because of an illness, but he practiced Saturday and said he'll be ready for Sunday. Philipp Grubauer made his NHL playoff debut Friday and made 18 saves in a 4-3 win.

"I felt fine," Holtby said after practice.

Capuano kept his lines intact from the loss Friday, but forward Mikhail Grabovski, who has missed more than two months because of an upper-body injury, is close to returning. Right wing Tyler Kennedy, a healthy scratch the first two games, is another option.

"As far as lineup changes, we'll have to really look closely at what we want to do," said Capuano, citing the advantage of having last change at home.

A raucous crowd is expected at Nassau Coliseum, which is hosting playoff hockey for the last time with the Islanders moving to Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season. Capitals coach Barry Trotz wasn't prepared to say what they will face in the first period.

"It depends on if they play really well or we play really well," Trotz said. "Maybe it's the other way around, you don't know. But usually the first 10 minutes teams try to set the tone and you try to weather any storm that whatever team throws at you."

The Islanders will again be without defenseman Travis Hamonic because of an undisclosed injury. There is no timetable for his return.


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