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Islanders get solid effort from two young defensemen

by Brian Compton

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- With their season on the line Saturday and their blue line depleted because of injuries, the New York Islanders played two defensemen who did not have a game of Stanley Cup Playoff experience between them.

Matt Donovan, a healthy scratch for most of the regular season, and Scott Mayfield, who spent the season with Bridgeport of the American Hockey League, replaced injured defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky and Calvin de Haan and helped the Islanders avoid elimination with a 3-1 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Nassau Coliseum.

"The main objective was to not get scored on, and me and Scotty did that," Donovan said. "I think we played well together."

Mayfield said, "It was really special to play in that game and just hear the crowd and everything, it was a lot of fun."

Donovan, who hadn't played since March 21 and not at all between Jan. 7 and March 13, played 10:17. He probably would have received more ice time had he not been handed a 10-minute misconduct at 18:24 of the second period.

Mayfield, a second-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, did not look out of place in the 10:30 of ice time he received.

"I thought Donovan and Mayfield played a tremendous game," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.

"You're disappointed throughout the year as players when you don't get recalled; well, you're recalled now. You might as well enjoy it and have fun. It's a great opportunity for you and there's no better place. I think they were relaxed back there."

Mayfield was the bigger surprise to play, considering Ryan Pulock, a first-round pick in 2013, has been practicing with the Islanders too. But Mayfield, who played five games for the Islanders near the end of the 2013-14 season, said he was ready to go.

"There's a lot of young defensemen and I don't know if I was so much surprised, but I want to make the best of it," Mayfield said. "I've been waiting all season for this opportunity. The coaches and everyone in Bridgeport have helped me get to this point. You never know who's going to get the call. You don't know what they're thinking or who they want. Everyone has their role, so I just tried to play the best of my ability. When you get that chance, you want to make the most of it."

They had help from their last line of defense; goaltender Jaroslav Halak made 38 saves for New York, which forced Game 7 in this best-of-7 series at Verizon Center on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2, MSG+, CSN-DC).

"They came in, they stepped in [and] they played well tonight," Halak said. "But we need the same thing from them in Game 7. It's been a battle. It's not going to be easy. We'll see what happens at the end of the night, who's going to come away with the victory."


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