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Islanders focus on improvements before facing Blues

by Brian Compton

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders built an early 2-0 lead against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but some costly turnovers in the defensive zone ultimately led to two valuable points in the standings slip away in a 6-4 loss.

New York coach Jack Capuano spent Friday going over video with his players, particularly rookie defensemen Matt Donovan and Calvin de Haan, who each played more than 20 minutes Thursday. They will pair together again Saturday when the Islanders (21-25-7) host the St. Louis Blues.

"They made a couple [mistakes] last game," Capuano said. "All we can do is continue to work with them. I'm not afraid to play young guys. But for our coaching staff, it's constant learning for those guys. They have some tendencies. Every player has a tendency, our guys have a couple. We have to break some of those habits.

"Early on [in the season], I thought they got down. But this time around, especially Matt since he's come up from his recall, he's responded real well after the shifts that he's made some blunders."

St. Louis (34-11-5) will be wrapping up a four-game road trip Saturday; the Blues are 2-1-0 thus far. They're likely to be without top scorer Alexander Steen, who sustained a lower-body injury during a 2-1 victory against the New York Rangers on Thursday and is listed as day-to-day. Steen has 26 goals in 39 games this season.

Jaroslav Halak (21-7-3, 2.28 goals-against average, .912 save percentage) will get the start for St. Louis. Kevin Poulin (11-15-0, 3.17 GAA, .893 save percentage) will start for the Islanders.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jaden Schwartz - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Vladimir Sobotka - Derek Roy - Vladimir Tarasenko

Magnus Paajarvi - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart

Brenden Morrow - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Ian Cole - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak

Brian Elliott

Injured: Alexander Steen (lower body)

Scratched: Jordan Leopold, Carlo Colaiacovo


Thomas Vanek - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Peter Regin - Frans Nielsen - Josh Bailey

Michael Grabner - Brock Nelson - Cal Clutterbuck

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Colin McDonald

Brian Strait - Andrew MacDonald

Matt Donovan - Calvin de Haan

Thomas Hickey - Matt Carkner

Kevin Poulin

Anders Nilsson

Scratched: Eric Boulton, Radek Martinek

Injured: Evgeni Nabokov (lower body), Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion), Travis Hamonic (upper body)

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