John Tavares’ message was direct and to-the-point: there is no time to live in the past.
“[It was a] long day and a half for us,” Tavares said after the Islanders’ morning skate at the Nassau Coliseum Tuesday morning prior to Game 4 against the Penguins. “It was a great hockey game, I’m sure, to watch and be a part of it, but we need [Game 4].
“[It’s] a big one here. [We] want to guarantee that we’re going to come back. That’s our goal: to get a big win tonight.”
Even though the Penguins have outscored the Islanders, 13-8, in the series, the teams are even in goals (8-8) over the last two games as Pittsburgh has struggled with the Isles’ speed and forecheck.
“It’s going to kill you,” Matt Carkner said when asked why a team wouldn’t opt to sit back and counterattack against the Penguins. “Any team in this league right now, you want to be the aggressor. You want to be aggressive but within your system. You don’t want to go full-out and exchange chances. You want to be the aggressor in every situation. You don’t want to give them time and if you sit back against these guys, they have such great players; they’re going to make plays on you. They’re going to make you look silly. So we just have to keep moving our feet and get in their faces.”
Listening to the press
Give head coach Jack Capuano credit for being honest.
The Islanders’ coach told reporters Tuesday morning he chronicles what is said and written about his team during the offseason.
“I don’t read papers, I don’t read blogs, I don’t read tweets [during the season]. I do over the summertime. People like yourselves that try to pick where teams are going to finish, I look at it,” Capuano said. “The thing about our club is we’ve matured and we believe. We have good character and good leadership. Work ethic will dictate a lot; it dictates the scoreboard.
“For us, it’s just a matter of every single guy believing in themselves and playing to the best of their abilities to give us a chance to win. I don’t know if we rallied around [preseason predictions] because from Day 1 we believed we were a good hockey team. We believed we had good players, good character, good leadership. If we played the way we wanted to play, we thought we would have success. It didn’t happen early on but it started to happen and the belief sets in even more. But I don’t think we rallied around that people didn’t pick us because it would be a distraction and we just go about our business the way we need to go about our business.”
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.