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Islanders backup goalie Neuvirth knows Capitals well

by David Satriano /

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – No one on the New York Islanders knows the Washington Capitals better than goalie Michal Neuvirth.

Neuvirth was drafted by the Capitals in 2006 and played 134 games in parts of six seasons (2008-2014) with them, posting a 59-41-13 record with seven shutouts.

And while he hasn't played in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series, which the Islanders have a 2-1 lead in, he's had a big part in the Islanders' preparation, which resumes Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum for Game 4 (7:30 PM, USA, SN360, TVA2, CSN-DC, MSG+).

"The guys even came to me and asked me so I gave them some tips," Neuvirth said after practice Monday. "I did. Especially on their goaltending."

Neuvirth was traded to the Buffalo Sabres last season, and played in 27 games with them this season before he was traded to the Islanders on March 2. It's been an adjustment not playing every day and backing up Jaroslav Halak, but one Neuvirth is fine with. He understands he is the backup, but could be called upon in the Stanley Cup Playoffs at any time.

"I look at it as a very good opportunity for me to win a Cup and that's our goal," Neuvirth said. "That's what I was thinking the first thing when I got traded.

"That's why I was brought here. I know I can play at this level and I am practicing hard, feeling good on the ice, and I know I'm going to get a chance if something doesn't go right and I will be ready."

New York defenseman Nick Leddy said Neuvirth's knowledge of Washington is something the Islanders can use to their advantage in the series.

"He obviously is great for information on some of their players especially information on some of [Washington's] skilled players," Leddy said. "Their shooters, what they are going to do, their tendencies, so he brings that aspect of it. But the biggest thing I think is just having him in the locker room, being the great guy that he is. He works hard every day so we know that he is ready to go at any point in time here.

"He is a great goalie and we might need him down the stretch here."

Forward Cal Clutterbuck, whose locker is close to Neuvirth's, said the Islanders don't have a backup, but rather two No. 1 goalies.

"He's just good to have around," Clutterbuck said. "He's got a good personality. He works in practice and lets guys work on things and he's good for us that way and he's definitely good enough to be a starting goalie so that's something that we enjoy obviously having as a so-called backup. But he has been great for us."

Forward Matt Martin noted that not only has Neuvirth helped the defense, but he's helped the Islanders shooters as well.

"He definitely has some insight on things we can do especially with [the Capitals] goaltender," Martin said. "I know the coaching staff has asked him questions and just as far as their team, I think in general the coaching staff through the players, we've prepared very well for this series."

Neuvirth played in five games for the Islanders in the regular season down the stretch, going 1-3-1.

"I'm part of a good team," Neuvirth said. "I really enjoy it. I still want to be the No. 1 [goalie] in this league but Jaro is playing very good right now and I am staying positive and working hard in practice and you never know. I am just trying to be ready."

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