Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Isles hope beating Sharks will kick-start season

  • Print

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- It was a familiar feeling for the New York Islanders during the second intermission Tuesday night.

Down two goals to the San Jose Sharks after losing their previous 10 games, the chatter in the locker-room was about continuing to push.

"We've talked about it in the past and haven't really done it," defenceman Travis Hamonic said.

Finally they did. In beating the Sharks in a shootout, the Islanders won for the first time since Nov. 16 and for just the third time in their past 17 games.

It's the kind of victory embattled coach Jack Capuano believes can generate confidence, but captain John Tavares knows it's not a magic elixir to the team's problems.

"We still lost 10 in a row," Tavares said. "We're still out of the mix here. We have a lot of ground to make up. It's a good feeling, breeds some confidence and enjoy it, but at the same time there can't be any let-up from our game and the way we need to play."

The way the Islanders had been playing was ugly. They were outscored 41-16 during the 10-game skid, picking up just two overtime-loss points.

"It just seems like when you start getting losses like that, they just start building up and building up and you really need something to break the goose egg," said Hamonic, a long shot Team Canada candidate who was invited to Olympic orientation camp but doesn't have a point in his past 18 games.

Sometimes it just takes one break to reverse fortunes, but for at least 20 minutes at SAP Center it looked like the Islanders were in trouble again.

The Sharks outshot them 18-3 but New York stayed in the game thanks to a brilliant effort from goaltender Kevin Poulin. The Montreal native finished with 46 saves.

"Your goalie's got to play well to win games," Capuano said. "That's what you need. Teams get it, have we got it? At times we've got it, but tonight was an exception and he played well for us and helped us get the win."

Goaltending has been a point of weakness for the Islanders, though when a team goes almost a month without a win it's easy to find fault just about everywhere. Every goalie on the roster -- Poulin, Anders Nilsson and injured veteran Evgeni Nabokov -- has a save percentage below .900 and a goals-against average over 3.00.

"We're confident in our goaltenders," said Hamonic, a native of St. Malo, Man. "I don't think we've played very well in front of them as a five-man unit, to be honest with you."

Early on against the Sharks, the Islanders didn't look like a cohesive five-man unit. They looked like a last-place team on the way to yet another loss.

Over time, as Poulin kept the Sharks at bay, Tavares made two goals happen, first from in-season trade acquisition Thomas Vanek and then from Kyle Okposo. Not too long later, Vanek and Okposo scored in the shootout and the Islanders were all smiles as they came off the ice.

"Obviously it feels nice to get that one out of the way," Vanek said. "It's not the type of game we envisioned, but that's a really good team over there. With that said, of the 10 we lost there's some of them where I thought we played probably well enough to win and we didn't."

Moral victories don't get a lot of run in the NHL, so actually winning and being able to play music in the locker-room after a game had some special meaning.

"That's what it's all about: It's about the camaraderie and it's about them staying together and working hard," Capuano said. "That's what this game's about and enjoying it. I'm extremely pleased that they got that feeling."

The Islanders have just nine wins in 32 games, and they're six points back of Columbus for seventh place in the mediocre Metropolitan Division.

"I still think there's a lot of things we need to be better at and turn the tides a little bit in the way we play," Tavares said.

Maybe beating the Sharks will turn that tide. Picking up two points against anyone in any way would have been something, but this means more to Capuano because of the degree of difficulty.

"We respect this team, we know how good they are," he said. "It can help you knowing that you come into a building against a real good hockey club in the West and come back from a two-goal deficit."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 12, 2013 D9

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Vigil held in support of homeless homicide victims

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Winnipeg’s best friend the dragon fly takes a break at English Gardens in Assiniboine Park Wednesday- A dragon fly can eat  food equal to its own weight in 30 minutes-Standup photo- June 13, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


Do you plan to watch Saturday's boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao?

View Results

Ads by Google