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Struggling Bolts set to host Islanders

by Brian Compton
ISLANDERS (28-33-12) at LIGHTNING (39-22-11)

TV: MSG-Plus 2, SUN.

Last 10: New York 5-1-4; Tampa Bay 2-4-4.

Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. The Islanders are 2-1-0 against the Bolts this season, with both of their victories coming in overtime.

Big Story: Despite the job he's done over the past three months, the future of Isles interim coach Jack Capuano remains uncertain. GM Garth Snow said he'll address the coaching issue after the season, but it's hard to dispute at this point that Capuano deserves to remain behind the bench. New York is 24-23-9 under Capuano and 13-6-5 since the All-Star break.

"You know what, I don't really judge myself too much," Capuano told the New York Post. "I feel like some of the things I've implemented have [gotten] results from some of the guys. A lot of guys are having career years, and it's impressive and it's a credit to them."

Team Scope:

Islanders: Trailing 2-1 after two periods Saturday night, the Isles rallied for a 4-3 shootout win against the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center. Michael Grabner tallied his 30th goal of the season, while Rick DiPietro picked up the victory in his first game since suffering facial fractures in a fight with Pittsburgh goalie Brent Johnson on Feb. 2. DiPietro stopped David Booth on a penalty shot in the third period, then denied both shootout attempts.

"I'll take a win any way I can get it," said DiPietro, who finished with 29 saves before winning for the 19th time in 29 career shootouts. "I would rather have not let in that third goal, but a little extra work never hurt anybody."

Lightning: Tampa Bay has struggled of late, as Guy Boucher's club has won only two of its last 10 games to fall five points behind the Washington Capitals in the Southeast Division. The Bolts suffered their second straight loss on Saturday, a 3-2 overtime defeat at Ottawa.

"It's frustrating because we only gave them 12 shots in the first two periods. We had double the shots and we had total control of the game," Boucher said.

Who's Hot: Grabner has 5 goals in his last 8 games for the Islanders. … Bolts captain Vincent Lecavalier has 11 goals in his last 19 contests.

Injury Report: The Isles, who lead the NHL in man games lost (506), will be without defensemen Mark Streit (shoulder), Mark Eaton (hip), Mike Mottau (hip), center Doug Weight (back), right wing Trent Hunter (knee) and goaltender Kevin Poulin (knee). … Tampa Bay is missing forward Ryan Malone (middle body) and defenseman Randy Jones (ankle). Forwards Steve Downie (lower body) and Simon Gagne (neck) are questionable.

Stat Pack: Grabner and Matt Moulson are the first pair of Islanders to score 30 goals in the same season since 2001-02, when Alexei Yashin and Mark Parrish accomplished the feat.

Puck Drop: "It's nice not to have to worry about it too much. "Hopefully now I can relax a little. It was a great pass from [Frans Nielsen], he's a play-maker. It's easy to play with him." -- Isles forward Michael Grabner on scoring his 30th goal of the season

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