(John Geliebter)
(John Geliebter)

The players are no longer getting coffee in the locker room and whispering to each other, "Cappy still here?"

A third goalie isn't being stashed on the roster, and limiting the reps of the excellent No. 1 and 1As, because of the long-shot notion he's the next Patrick Roy.

The distracting façade of job interviews of questionable candidates for a President of Hockey Operations position that never got filled -- despite the Islanders' embarrassing first half of last season -- is over.

At a time when every major league has become a young man's game (see: tonight's baseball game), the Islanders are no longer favoring safe retreads over special, young talent.

The bet here is that the Islanders learned from last year -- the first one under the complete watch of Jon Ledecky and transcontinental view of Scott Malkin. The "Look at Us, the Smartest Guys in the Room (and whadaya think about a ninth playoff spot, Commish?)" era is hopefully over.

As a result, and because of the simple fact that they have the player personnel to get it done in a conference that is not steeped in quality, the Islanders will qualify for the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.



Of course, that's not really anything to rejoice about. The franchise is so far into a rebuilding project, its start date becomes murkier by the season. Let's put it at 2009, after the Islanders revived the gory days and the gift of John Tavares arrived. Eight years later, just making the playoffs -- and no, it won't be a smooth ride start to finish -- is not good enough.

However…

Doug Weight can coach and he can talk. He's the best Islanders coach since Peter Laviolette. Like Peter, as a passionate talker, Weight has about a three-season window before the message gets stale. Doug knows this from all the coaches he played for. With so much at stake this season, the Islanders couldn't have a better person doing the coaching and all the press briefings.

The defenders are the weak spot, but not because of the trade of Travis Hamonic -- amazing human, good and gritty defender, member of the Frans Nielsen "He was so underrated, he got overrated" club. Another defenseman will arrive before the trade deadline.

Weight will play Josh Ho-Sang, Mathew Barzal, and Anthony Beauvillier plenty and put them in position to succeed. It's doubtful all three kids will, because that's not usually how sports works. If one struggles, Garth Snow has some depth at the position. He also has the resources to make an impact trade.

Andrew Ladd is not to blame for the contract Snow desperately gave him after Nielsen and Kyle Okposo left (Heard Ladd was in my neighborhood late last June and I had an image of Snowy yelling, "Do not let Ladd leave the Island without a deal!"). Ladd is a good player. Play him.

Any team that can roll out Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck has the luxury of two bottom-six forwards with the rare ability to change a game in one shift -- together or separately.

Islanders scouts thought they had a future third-line, 1,000-game player when they picked a high school football star named Anders Lee late in the draft. They got a 30-goal scorer. Jordan Eberle won't stink. Tavares seems like a good hockey player.

Having Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss is a blessing for any head coach. Takes away too much thinking.

Here's the part where we throw in two qualifiers. Like every team, they have to stay healthy enough. Like every team called the New York Islanders, they have to not shoot themselves in the foot with silly stuff.

The talent and tenacity, buzz of youth, goaltending, coaching and (lordy, please) normalcy should result in a 6-to-10 point improvement over last season, and a postseason berth.



Today's Tweeted Question

@Isles_Fanatic asked: What makes Pierre McGuire so confident that the Isles will have difficulty re-signing Tavares?

Asked him for you, Fanatic. "I'm concerned," Pierre texted. "The fact a deal wasn't done in the offseason, when the Isles didn't acquire Matt Duchene, makes you wonder. Not having a building also causes a problem. Just concerned."

I don't agree with everything Pierre had to say on the Tavares issue on the NBC conference call, but you have to give him this: technically, he's already right. If re-signing Tavares was easy, it would have been done in the last few months.

Today's Guests: Weekes, Faber and Feinstein Bring Optimism

Kevin Weekes and I would sit together sometimes on the Islanders' plane in 1999-2000 and discuss his future in broadcasting. Now a studio analyst for NHL Network, Weekes believes the Islanders will make the playoffs. This is the barrage of texts Kevin sent this morning:

"Isles will be faster and more dynamic offensively…Ho-Sang, Barzal, Eberle means more pace and skill…Biggest miscalculation last year was handling of Halak after he was the best goalie at the World Cup. Had he been there all year, Isles would have made the playoffs…Him and Greiss are a strong pair...Defense is still a bit thin…They missed the playoffs by a point last year, but they learn from it and get in this year!"

Raised in Mount Sinai, Long Island, Samantha Faber won a gold medal with the U.S. National Team in 2008 and starred at the University of New Hampshire. Today, in addition to being a coach and skills instructor, she is a star of the Connecticut Whale of the National Women's Hockey League, which begins its third season this month. (Disclosure: I'm the league's communications consultant). Sam and her brother, Matt, are life-long Islanders fans and their family were 15-year season ticketholders at the old barn. Sam and Matt wrote this together:

"You would think the Tavares issue would be too much for a team that didn't make the playoffs last year to overcome, right? Not so fast. Tavares is the consummate pro and won't let it be a distraction. The forward core looks solid. Islander fans will soon understand why Garth Snow did not pull the trigger and include Barzal in a trade for Matt Duchene. Barzal has vision, speed and high skill. It was robbery that the NHL.com reporters did not have him on their top fifteen Calder Trophy watch. Our biggest concerns are on defense. Nick Leddy is one of the more underrated defensemen in the league. After that, there are lots of questions. Halak and Greiss are both starting goalies. Prediction: Fourth in the metro, first wildcard spot."

John Feinstein, the long-time Washington Post columnist, best-selling author and regular on ESPN's "Sports Reporters" who grew up on Long Island, is an Islanders superfan. Whenever he talks NYI, he drops the polished delivery and just lets it rip. Here's Feinstein's email:

"I am usually loathe to predict anything good for any of my teams - especially the Islanders. Feels like the kiss of death. BUT, I honestly believe if Weight had been the coach from day 1 last season they would have made the playoffs. Eberle has GOT to play well and has GOT to score a lot of goals if he's going to be on the Tavares line. The goaltending has to be more consistent than last year. I think it helps that the Caps aren't going to be nearly as good as they've been (least I hope not), but it comes back to this: I think Weight's the right coach. Love his passion. So, I'll vote yes on playoffs and start hiding underneath my couch momentarily. The only thing that really matters the next few months is re-signing JT. If they don't do that, they might as well just compete in the ECHL from now on."

Notebook

Worth the Admission: Josh Ho-Sang proved a lot of people wrong, quicker than many believed possible (my hand is up) and, at times, did it spectacularly. But what's next after justifying his admirable self-confidence and with everyone -- opponents and press for starters -- more focused on him? It's fascinating to watch. Lots of people will be buying $18 tickets on StubHub to see him this season in Brooklyn.



Monument to Failure: Take a look at the October schedule of NYCB Barely Alive in Uniondale. There's a haunted house thing all month in the Exhibition Hall. In the main arena, there are two events in 31 days: a Bruno Mars concert and a Brooklyn Nets preseason game (woo-hoo!). You think this is going well for the arena's management (you know, the people who run Barclays) and Nassau politicians? Think about what it could have been, and what it became. So far, an extraordinary dud on so many levels.

Top Acquisition: Second-year play-by-play man Brenden Burke is a gem. He's clear, passionate, ego-less, entertaining, and sets up Butch Goring well. Selecting announcers for these rare openings is challenging. You get buried in hundreds of links and CDs, just about everyone sounds great, and somehow you have to pick the ideal person who'll bring the passion every night and mesh well with the analyst, production crew, team management, and the players. Here's hoping Burke makes the Country his home for a long time.

****

If the Islanders don't crush it out of the gate, can we agree to not obsess over those charts that say they're down to a 23 percent chance of making the playoffs? In early November? Please? No?

Okay.

Please join the conversation in the Comments, and send feedback and questions via Twitter @ChrisBottaNHL

Tags: Anders Lee, Andrew Ladd, Anthony Beauvillier, Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, Jaroslav Halak, John Tavares, Jordan Eberle, Josh Ho-Sang, Mathew Barzal, Nick Leddy, Thomas Greiss, Chris Botta

New York Islanders center John Tavares (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

John Tavares is having trouble doing something he usually does with ease: scoring. 

In the past seven games, the Isles' captain has been scoreless in 5-on-5 play, and it is starting to get to him. The franchise player needs to score, and he understands that. 

"We know we can be a lot more consistent, starting with myself," he told Newsday's Mark Hermann. "All of it starts with me setting an example for the group. So, I've just got to go out there and be really reliable all over the ice. Five on five we'd like to be a lot more productive."

Tags: John Tavares, Mathew Barzal
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New York Islanders center Alan Quine (10) works out prior to game two of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena. (Kim Klement)
New York Islanders center Alan Quine (10) works out prior to game two of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena. (Kim Klement)

The Islanders have placed Alan Quine on IR due to a lower body injury, the team announced Friday.

Quine, 24, has three goals and three assists in 21 games this season. 

He hasn't played since Feb. 5.

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New York Islanders left wing Josh Bailey (12) celebrates his goal scored against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at Honda Center. (Gary A. Vasquez)
New York Islanders left wing Josh Bailey (12) celebrates his goal scored against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at Honda Center. (Gary A. Vasquez)

The Islanders announced they signed Josh Bailey to a six-year extension on Friday with free agency looming.

Bailey's contract will likely have an average annual value of approximately $5 million per season, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported on Thursday.

The 28-year-old Bailey, who will remain with New York through the 2023-24 season, has 15 goals and 47 assists in 58 games this season.

Andrew Battifarano, SNY.tv: Feb. 22 - Going into an offseason of uncertainty, this at least gives the Islanders a little bit of clarity on the top line. Bailey is in the midst of a career-year and is still on pace to finish at over a point-per-game pace. Much-maligned early in his career for not being a big enough factor on the offensive end, Bailey has really solidified himself as a bonafide winger next to John Tavares, earning himself a trip to this year's All-Star Game...

Tags: Josh Bailey
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Jan 2, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) plays the puck against Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jan 2, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) plays the puck against Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Islanders were unable to hold on to 2-1 and 3-2 leads, and eventually lost in a shootout to the Maple Leafs 4-3. Mathew Barzal had three points (1 G, 2 A) on the night. << Box score

First period

  • 8:39 NYI Ryan Pulock; Assists: Thomas Hickey, Mathew Barzal
  • 11:49 NYI Mathew Barzal; Assists: Sebastian Aho, Anthony Beauvillier
  • 17:39 TOR Mitch Marner; Assists: Patrick Marleau, Nazem Kadri

Second period

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Jan 4, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates his goal with right wing Josh Bailey (12) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)
Jan 4, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates his goal with right wing Josh Bailey (12) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)

The NHL's annual trade deadline (Monday at 3 p.m. ET) entertains, or pains in some cases, fans around the league with rumors galore of what it would cost to improve your team heading into the home stretch of the 2017-18 season.

The reality of the situation is typically much less dramatic than the chatter leading into it, with the market flooded with more sellers than buyers, prices very expensive and the fluidity of discussions themselves that seem to change by the hour, often leading to nothing getting done at all.

In fact, it could be argued that the biggest deals involving the most stars occur before the trade deadline or way after it, at the entry draft. Since 2010, when 31 trades were executed involving 55 players, there has only been an average of 18 deals with 35 players exchanging teams in the subsequent seven years. And the names are hardly earth-shattering when looking back...

Tags: Andrew Ladd, John Tavares, Johnny Boychuk, Josh Bailey, Andy Graziano
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Jan 31, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal (13) battles for position with Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Connor Carrick (8) in front of goalie Frederik Andersen (31) in the first period at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports (Dan Hamilton)
Jan 31, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal (13) battles for position with Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Connor Carrick (8) in front of goalie Frederik Andersen (31) in the first period at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports (Dan Hamilton)

TORONTO -- The New York Islanders will be trying to avoid a repeat of their last visit to the Air Canada Centre when they play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

The Maple Leafs defeated them 5-0 on Jan. 31 and the Islanders return to the ACC needing every point possible in their desperate pursuit of a playoff spot.

The Islanders (29-26-6) are 4-6-1 since the All-Star break and are one point removed from a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference after losing 5-3 to the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

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Jaroslav Halak (Christopher Hanewinckel)
Jaroslav Halak (Christopher Hanewinckel)

When the Islanders allowed 32 shots on net during Monday's matinee against the Wild, one must have thought this was nothing short of a minor miracle. Especially after yielding 95 chances over the previous two games, this one felt like a cakewalk.

But in what feels like a recurring theme, the Islanders squandered a winnable game, falling 5-3. After stopping 50 shots against the Rangers for his first shutout of the season, Jaroslav Halak was tagged for five goals. In quick succession in the second period, the Islanders let one slip away.

Halak wasn't at his best, but it truly felt like an aberration for the 32-year-old netminder. In each of the last two months, Halak owns a .917 save percentage, which is a better number than his career average (.916). While November saw Halak continually struggle in the crease, he's largely stepped up this season and been one of the reasons this team is clinging to any chance at sniffing the playoffs.

Tags: Jaroslav Halak
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Jan 16, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak (41) makes a glove save against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Jan 16, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak (41) makes a glove save against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

Jaroslav Halak will be in net for the Islanders tonight against the Maple Leafs, head coach Doug Weight said.

The Islanders will have the same lineup they used during Monday's loss to the Wild.

Tags: Jaroslav Halak
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New York Islanders center John Tavares skates before a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center John Tavares skates before a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)

The biggest drama surrounding the Islanders' visit to Toronto on Thursday may not be the game itself, but those five minutes when John Tavares faces another round of interrogation from the largest and peskiest press corps in the NHL.

Tavares will handle the Toronto media like the gentleman he was raised to be, but there will be plenty left unsaid. For example...

Tags: John Tavares, Mathew Barzal, Chris Botta
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Four minutes and 12 seconds is all it took, as the Islanders watched Monday's matinee game unravel in front of their eyes. 

After an Anders Lee goal made it 2-1 early in the second period, the Islanders looked to be the controlling team everyone has seen for the past two games. But a burst from the Wild turned into a forecheck from hell for the Isles. 

Three goals were tallied on the scoreboard in that 4:12 span, and it was the decisive push Minnesota needed to snap the Isles' small two-game win streak...

Tags: Anders Lee, Ross Johnston, Thomas Hickey
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Feb 19, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Nate Prosser (39) plays the puck against New York Islanders left wing Ross Johnston (52) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Feb 19, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Nate Prosser (39) plays the puck against New York Islanders left wing Ross Johnston (52) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Though Tanner Fritz netted his first career goal, the Islanders couldn't hold off the Wild, losing, 5-3, at Barclays Center. << Box score

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Nov 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save in front of Philadelphia Flyers left wing Michael Raffl (12) during first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports  (Noah K. Murray)
Nov 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save in front of Philadelphia Flyers left wing Michael Raffl (12) during first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Islanders G Thomas Greiswas placed on the IR Monday, which is retroactive to Feb. 16. His timetable for return is unknown.

Greiss' injury comes the same day he posted a 45-save shutout on the road against the Hurricanes in the Isles' 3-0 win. 

The 32-year-old is 11-7-2 on the season with a 3.84 goals-against average and .891 save percentage in 24 games. Christopher Gibson was an emergency call-up from Bridgeport to take his roster spot. 

Tags: Christopher Gibson, Jaroslav Halak, Thomas Greiss
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Feb 3, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) shoots against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo (70) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Feb 3, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) shoots against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo (70) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

NEW YORK -- It took the New York Islanders only 24 hours to rewrite the narrative of their season. << Read more

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New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save against the Nashville Predators during the third period at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)
New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save against the Nashville Predators during the third period at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)

Before the Islanders back-to-back against the Rangers and Hurricanes, there would have been no rationale behind predicting that the team would come out on the other side with a pair of high-save shutouts. Between two goalies, nonetheless. 

But that's exactly what happened. On Friday night against the Hurricanes, Thomas Greiss saved all 45 of Carolina's shots en route to a crucial 3-0 win. It was the perfect encore to Jaroslav Halak's 50-save shutout against the Rangers the night prior.

"He was outstanding," head coach Doug Weight said of Greiss, via Cory Wright of the Islanders official site. "He was just a big piece of that win. And on the team's behalf, I thought we had the best effort in front of Thomas we've had in the last six weeks..."

Tags: Anthony Beauvillier, Thomas Greiss
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 (James Guillory)
(James Guillory)

Thomas Greiss posted a 45-save shutout, while Johnny Boychuk, Anthony Beauvillier, and John Tavares each netted a goal in a big Isles win over the Hurricanes on Friday night. << Box score

Second period

  • 10:06 NYI Johnny Boychuk; Assists: Brock Nelson, Ross Johnston

Third period

  • 12:00 NYI Anthony Beauvillier (Unassisted)
  • 19:28 NYI John Tavares (ENG)
Tags: Anthony Beauvillier, John Tavares, Johnny Boychuk, Thomas Greiss
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 (Dennis Schneidler)
(Dennis Schneidler)

With the fog settling on what has already been a tenuous week, things still feel… chaotic.

Whether it was on the ice or off, there were almost too many threads to attempt to keep track of.

There was a bad loss to Columbus that hurt dimming chances in the playoff race. Then, there was Doug Weight's ensuing irate press conference. Somehow fans were to blame for another lackluster defensive performance.

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Feb 3, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) shoots against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo (70) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Feb 3, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) shoots against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo (70) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

RALEIGH, N.C. -- As much as the New York Islanders needed a victory, they also needed to regain confidence in their back end. << Read more

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New York Islanders left wing Josh Bailey (12) receives congratulations from teammates after scoring in the first period against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. (Rick Osentoski)
New York Islanders left wing Josh Bailey (12) receives congratulations from teammates after scoring in the first period against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. (Rick Osentoski)

After the Islanders beat the Rangers 3-0 at home, a familiar result as the Isles are 5-0-0 against the Rangers at the Barclay's Center, general manager Garth Snow could breathe a bit easier as fan discontentment has boiled recently. 

The Islanders got their first shutout of the season behind Jaroslav Halak's 50 saves and head coach Doug Weight hopes there is more to come from the team who has conceded the most goals in the NHL.

"It's not the be-all-end-all," Weight said, via Anthony Rieber of Newsday. "But yeah, it feels really good for him. I guess it was the first one of the year. We need to build on that..."

Tags: Josh Bailey
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Jan 16, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak (41) makes a glove save against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Jan 16, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak (41) makes a glove save against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

Jaraslov Halak earned his first shutout of the season with 50 saves as the Islanders beat the Rangers 3-0. << Box score

First period

  • 4:53 NYI Josh Bailey (PPG); Assists: Nick Leddy, Mathew Barzal

Second period

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New York Islanders forward Andrew Ladd (16) celebrates his second period goal with teammates forward Anders Lee (27) and forward Josh Bailey (12) against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. (James Guillory)
New York Islanders forward Andrew Ladd (16) celebrates his second period goal with teammates forward Anders Lee (27) and forward Josh Bailey (12) against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. (James Guillory)

NEW YORK -- Fans of the New York Islanders and New York Rangers hoping to see their favorite teams clash in the NHL playoffs are likely to be disappointed for a 24th straight spring. As a result, Thursday night will have to suffice.

The Big Apple rivals will play their first -- and possibly final -- game this season with a playoff-type atmosphere Thursday, when the Islanders host the Rangers at Barclays Center.

Both teams are coming off slump-deepening losses Tuesday that further lengthened their odds of emerging from the packed Eastern Conference wild-card race with a playoff berth. The Islanders fell to the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-1 while the Rangers lost to the host Minnesota Wild, 3-2.

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 (Dennis Wierzbicki)
(Dennis Wierzbicki)

Islanders C Anders Lee is asking fans not to donate to his Kancer Jam Foundation in light of the "Snow Must Go" movement, which is in reference to Islanders GM Garth Snow. 

Many fans believe Snow hasn't been the best GM, and after not making any moves at the trade deadline, they feel it is time for the team to look for a new one.

Lee can't back this movement as Snow was the reason the Isles drafted him back in 2009. He posted to Twitter to tell fans to donate to a different cause instead of his own, which raises money to fight cancer in an event that includes the famous backyard game "Kan Jam..."

Tags: Anders Lee
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Apr 6, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight looks on from behind the players bench against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The New York Islanders defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)
Apr 6, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight looks on from behind the players bench against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The New York Islanders defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports (James Guillory)

In a tailspin that has seen his club drop six of its last eight games, Islanders coach Doug Weight is hoping an upcoming matchup with the rival Rangers on Thursday at Barclays Center will turn things around.

"It's always fun to play them and they're in the same situation we are," Weight said. "They're playing for their lives."

The Islanders (27-25-6, 60 points) are one point ahead of the Rangers, who are in last place in the Metropolitan Division. Over their last 34 games, the Isles are 12-18-4 which puts them three points behind the Hurricanes for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. They dropped a 4-1 decision to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night, their fourth loss in five games.

Tags: Anders Lee, John Tavares
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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

To start off their "do-or-die" week, it was the night of the skating dead for the Islanders on their home ice.The Isles were ready to make a statement this week as they played three division opponents who are all looking for a wild card slot. But, instead of coming out with the same intensity, New York dropped a dud on their home ice as the Blue Jackets waltzed away with a 4-1 win. 

Head coach Doug Weight said "we were just flat" as they were outshot 51-30, and allowed four unanswered goals after John Tavares' power-play goal in the first period. 

Tags: Anders Lee, Jaroslav Halak, John Tavares
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Oct 13, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) awaits the face-off against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the third period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports (Aaron Doster)
Oct 13, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) awaits the face-off against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the third period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports (Aaron Doster)

Have you ever felt sick, but just didn't feel like going to doctor's office because setting up an appointment gets to be a hassle? You rationalize to yourself that whatever's ailing you will calm down and ease up, but you let it fester and it only gets worse. 

That's kind of like what the Islanders are doing with their defense this season. 

It's been written about and discussed ad nauseam, but this team's blueline has been, to put it nicely, not up to snuff. The eye test is not pretty, and the numbers back it up...

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Feb 13, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) and Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Josh Anderson (77) pursue a loose puck during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Feb 13, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) and Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Josh Anderson (77) pursue a loose puck during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

The Blue Jackets responded to John Tavares' first period goal with four unanswered goals of their own to cruise to a 4-1 victory Tuesday at the Barclays Center. >> Box score

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Jan 30, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) and center Alan Quine (10) fight for the puck with Florida Panthers center Derek MacKenzie (17) and Florida center Micheal Haley (18) during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jan 30, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) and center Alan Quine (10) fight for the puck with Florida Panthers center Derek MacKenzie (17) and Florida center Micheal Haley (18) during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Islanders and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Two of the seven Metropolitan Division teams wrapped up in a tightly-packed race for the final two Metro playoff spots and the two Eastern Conference wild-card berths will face off at Barclays Center.

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

With three big games in the next five days, the Islanders are gearing up for a "do-or-die" week. 

The first of the three will be the Blue Jackets coming to Brooklyn on Tuesday, and Casey Cizikas speaks for the whole team when he says this game is the start to either good tidings or bad fortunes for the Islanders, who have been up and down all season long. 

"I think this week is do-or-die for us," Cizikas told Newsday's Brian Heyman at practice Monday. "We'd either be in a really good position or we can be in a tough position where we're kind of looking from the other side in. We want to make sure that we're putting pressure on other teams to keep up with us and we're not chasing them. So this week is massive."

Tags: Casey Cizikas, Mathew Barzal
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GEICO SportsNite: Islanders 00:01:00
Islanders head coach Doug Weight discusses the decision to bench Mathew Barzal late in the team's loss to Calgary on Sunday.

Islanders rookie forward Mathew Barzal said he his holding himself accountable after head coach Doug Weight benched him for the final seven minutes of Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames.

"I'll own up to it," Barzal told Newsday's Brian Heyman after Monday's practice. "I didn't have a great game. I didn't deserve to be out there late in the game. He made a good coaching move. I've got to hold myself accountable. I'm not going to sit here and pout and be upset that I wasn't out there. I know I've got to play better."

Tags: Mathew Barzal
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Feb 11, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic (24) controls the puck against New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Feb 11, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic (24) controls the puck against New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Travis Hamonic never got a proper exit from the Islanders, but the fans made up for it in his homecoming Sunday night. 

The former Islanders defenseman was traded to the Flames this past summer for draft picks, and Isles Country couldn't send him off in the way they wanted to. That is why his No. 3 jersey was seen all over Barclays Center last night as the Flames came to town. 

Hamonic, who served as an alternate captain and spent seven years in the blue and orange, made an impact on head coach Doug Weight during his time in New York.

Tags: Travis Hamonic
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New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak makes a save against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak makes a save against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

Jaroslav Halak surrendered a late goal to Matthew Tkachuk as the Islanders lost to the Calgary Flames 3-2 on Sunday at Barclays Center. >> Box score


First period:

  • 3:08 NYI Casey Cizikas

Second period:

Tags: Calgary Flames
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Jan 15, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders players celebrate their win against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)
Jan 15, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders players celebrate their win against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)

NEW YORK -- A pair teams feeling decidedly different about their most recent games will face each other Sunday night when the New York Islanders host the Calgary Flames at Barclays Center.

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Dec 1, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Anders Lee (27) celebrates his goal against the Ottawa Senators with New York Islanders left wing Josh Bailey (12) and New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Dec 1, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Anders Lee (27) celebrates his goal against the Ottawa Senators with New York Islanders left wing Josh Bailey (12) and New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Everything about Friday night's game against the Red Wings felt like a microcosm of the entire season.

Watching the first two-and-a-half periods of the game, it truly felt like one could fill out an Islanders bingo card - defensive turnovers, plenty of failures clearing the zone, an early deficit, subpar goaltending from Thomas Greiss and an angry #IslesTwitter calling for someone's head.

Even when it looked like there was a comeback in the works early in the third period, Darren Helm and Anthony Mantha dashed all hopes with two goals in quick succession...

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Feb 9, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) celebrates with center Mathew Barzal (13) after Nelson scored the game winning goal in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Feb 9, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) celebrates with center Mathew Barzal (13) after Nelson scored the game winning goal in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

The box score for the Islanders win over the Red Wings looked more like a low scoring football game than a hockey game. Isles head coach Doug Weight and his players hope the enthralling 7-6 victory will mean more than just two points and will act as a springboard for the rest of the season.

After going behind 3-0 in the first period and hearing boos from their home crowd at the Barclay's Center, the team rallied back. The Red Wings seemed to quell the first comeback attempt, extending their lead to 5-2, but four straight third-period powerplay goals pushed the Islanders into the lead. They'd eventually need overtime to seal the win, but a galvanizing win it was...

Tags: Brock Nelson, Mathew Barzal
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 (Andy Marlin)
(Andy Marlin)

Brock Nelson capped off his hat trick -- and the Isles' big comeback -- with an overtime goal to defeat the Red Wings, 7-6, at Barclays Center. << Box score

Tags: Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, John Tavares, Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal
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 (Timothy T. Ludwig)
(Timothy T. Ludwig)

NEW YORK -- Two teams on the outside looking in at the Eastern Conference wild-card race will square off in a pivotal game Friday night when the New York Islanders host the Detroit Red Wings at Barclays Center. << Read more

 

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New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) during the first period against the Boston Bruins at Barclays Center. (Anthony Gruppuso)
New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) during the first period against the Boston Bruins at Barclays Center. (Anthony Gruppuso)

Thomas Greiss will be in net for the Islanders tonight against the Red Wings, head coach Doug Weight said.

The forwards will remain the same.

Seven defensemen -- including the recently-activated Johnny Boychuk -- will take warmups.

Tags: Johnny Boychuk, Thomas Greiss
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If you've ever wondered about the kind of things a general manager might say to his team's owners in the suite during a game, at dinner at a North Shore steakhouse, or on the phone to cover his hide the morning after the latest loss, wonder no more. This week, Garth Snow pulled back the curtain on the wizardry that has enabled him to remain GM of the Islanders for nearly a dozen years, despite any measurable success.

Perhaps emboldened by another "atta way!" from ownership and a strong cup of Starbucks, Snow was at his hypnotic best when speaking with Steven Marcus of Newsday on Wednesday. His team merely in a scramble for eighth place again, Snow has long since given up on trying to win over the fan base.

As he did in the Charles Wang era, Snow's primary focus is on retaining his power with ownership. Think that's being overdramatic? This is a man who failed for years and was given the added title of president and later a golden parachute by Wang. Imagine if his Islanders had ever accomplished anything!

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Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk is among the team's top shot-takers. (Kim Klement)
Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk is among the team's top shot-takers. (Kim Klement)

The Islanders activated defenseman Johnny Boychuk off injured reserve on Friday after he had missed the past six weeks with a lower-body injury, the team announced.

Boychuk, who has not appeared in a game since Dec. 27, has recorded three goals and six assists in 34 games this season.

In Boychuk's absence, the Islanders have gone 6-10-4 and have given up 3.6 goals per game.

Tags: Johnny Boychuk
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New York Islanders center John Tavares skates before a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center John Tavares skates before a game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)

The Islanders fell behind the Sabres 3-0 on Thursday night but clawed back to tie the game 3-3 in the third period. Unfortunately, they couldn't complete the comeback and lost 4-3. 

John Tavares scored the Islanders first goal, launching the comeback that fell short, but blamed missed opportunities as the reason for the defeat. 

"They capitalized more on their opportunities than we did on ours," Tavares said, via the team. "It's just unfortunate because overall it was a pretty decent hockey game. We came back and had big goals, but just blown coverage in our own zone and it cost us."

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New York Islanders center Anders Lee celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with left wing Josh Bailey, defenseman Calvin de Haan and defenseman Adam Pelech (50) in the first period at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center Anders Lee celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with left wing Josh Bailey, defenseman Calvin de Haan and defenseman Adam Pelech (50) in the first period at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports)

The Islanders stormed back to tie the game 3-3 after being down 3-0, only to loss 4-3 late in the third period. << Box score

First period:

  • 7:41 BUF Jack Eichel; Assists: Casey Nelson, Sam Reinhart
  • 13:21 BUF Evan Rodrigues; Assists: Sam Reinhart, Marco Scandella

Second period:

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Jan 4, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates his goal with right wing Josh Bailey (12) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)
Jan 4, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates his goal with right wing Josh Bailey (12) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The losses keep on piling up for the Buffalo Sabres.

With losses in all four games so far in a five-game homestand, the Sabres will look to end their home stretch on a more positive note when the New York Islanders visit on Thursday night.

The Sabres (14-29-10) were dominated in consecutive losses to New Jersey, Florida and St. Louis but Buffalo did put up more of a fight in Tuesday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks. In that game, Ryan O'Reilly forced overtime with a late goal before the Sabres ultimately fell in the extra period.

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Dec 13, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) makes a save during the first period against the Dallas Stars at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
		
		  (Dennis Schneidler)
Dec 13, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) makes a save during the first period against the Dallas Stars at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

Jaroslav Halak will be in net for the Islanders when they face the Sabres tonight, head coach Doug Weight said.

Ross Johnston will be in for Alan Quine.

Defensive pairings will be announced during warmups.

Tags: Jaroslav Halak
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Garth Snow doesn't often conduct interviews of any real heft, but when he does, they are almost always embarrassing to the franchise and insulting to the fan base. As for Snow, he has no shame. This guy has been trolling the customers and his employers since before Twitter really took off.

Snow did not disappoint on Wednesday, when he launched a dizzying torrent of turds at the dignified Steven Marcus of Newsday. Marcus has been a strong journalist for a long time on the Island. He did his job. He got someone to talk who usually runs away when the going gets tough, and then Marcus reported what his subject said.

There are two themes to any Garth Snow interview. The less important, but more hilarious portion is when Snow tries to send twisted messages to his bosses to illustrate what a brilliant general manager he is. On Wednesday to Marcus, Snow obliterated his own record for unleashing quality bullcrap in brief time, making Calvin de Haan a $10 million-a-year defenseman in the process by citing his injury as a primary "fact" behind his team's mediocrity. It was such an awesome display of desperately pumping himself up through fiction, it warrants its own post tomorrow. (Doug Weight, apparently bummed out over bloggers, deserves a break)...

Tags: Calvin De Haan, John Tavares, Johnny Boychuk, Chris Botta
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New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield (42) during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield (42) during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

The Islanders have placed Scott Mayfield (lower-body injury) has been placed on IR, retroactive to Feb. 5, the team announced.

Mayfield has two goals and 10 assists, and has amassed 41 penalty minutes in 43 games this season.

The 25-year-old agreed to a five-year contract extension in January that is worth $1.45 million annually, according to Newsday.

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 (Dennis Schneidler)
(Dennis Schneidler)

It was yet another painful loss for the Islanders Monday night, but this time they had the lead and failed to finish the game. 

The Islanders held a 4-3 lead going into the third period, and it looked all but over when the Predators couldn't convert on any of their opportunities. However, it took just one shot with 42.2 seconds left in the period to send the game to overtime. 

They may have notched a point, but it was a game in which the Islanders needed to win yet couldn't finish the job. 

Tags: Andrew Ladd, Casey Cizikas, Jaroslav Halak, John Tavares, Nick Leddy
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GEICO SportsNite: Weight on loss 00:00:30
Monday night's 5-4 overtime loss to the Predators was a disappointing one for Doug Weight and the Islanders, who were hoping to bounce back.

The Islanders blew a two-goal lead and lost to the Nashville Predators 5-4 in overtime on Monday at Barclays Center. >> Box score


First period:

  • 4:55 NYI John Tavares (power play); Assists: Josh Bailey, Anders Lee
  • 11:59 NSH Kevin Fiala; Assists: Kyle Turris, Craig Smith
  • 13:27 NSH Fiala; Assists: Ryan Ellis, Smith
  • 14:05 NYI Ryan Pulock; Assists: Andrew Ladd, Brock Nelson
  • 17:03 NYI Casey Cizikas; Assist: Jason Chimera

Second period:

Tags: Anders Lee, Andrew Ladd, Brock Nelson, Casey Cizikas, Jason Chimera, John Tavares, Nashville Predators, Nick Leddy, Ryan Pulock
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New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal skates the puck by Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Artemi Panarin during the first period at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal skates the puck by Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Artemi Panarin during the first period at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

The New York Islanders stemmed a crisis and steadied their Eastern Conference playoff positioning with a narrow win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

The Islanders' reward? A date with one of the hottest teams in the NHL.

Tags: Nashville Predators
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Feb 3, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Pierre-Luc Dubois (18) shoots the puck against New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy (2) during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Feb 3, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Pierre-Luc Dubois (18) shoots the puck against New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy (2) during the third period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Islanders D Nick Leddy finally snapped his goal-less streak Saturday against the Blue Jackets, and it was a big one too. 

Leddy's goal may have came in the first period, but it was needed as it appeared the Blue Jackets' forecheck was becoming too much for New York. It tied the game up, and for Leddy, he secured his first goal since Nov. 24. 

Along with the goal, head coach Doug Weight thought Leddy has a great all-around game, and it was the play he has been looking for him to produce all season. 

Tags: Nick Leddy
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Feb 3, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) shoots against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo (70) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Feb 3, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) shoots against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo (70) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Jordan Eberle tied the game and Brock Nelson scored the go-ahead to help the Islanders overcome a third-period deficit and beat the Blue Jackets, 4-3. >> Box score

Tags: Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson, Jordan Eberle, Nick Leddy
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