Schott: Islanders Making Barclays Feel Like Home

(John Tavares celebrates a goal – @NYIslanders)

When a team moves into a new arena, it can sometimes take awhile to get used to the surroundings.

For the New York Islanders, it appears that process is taking quicker than normal as they get used to Barclays Center.

They opened the season with an overtime loss against the Chicago Blackhawks last Friday, taking a point out of that one. They followed that up with a convincing 4-2 win on Monday afternoon against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Islanders followed that up with their second straight win at home against a tough Western Conference opponent on Thursday night, as they came from two goals down to beat the Nashville Predators 4-3.

Islanders Captain John Tavares said after the game on Thursday of getting used to the intricacies of Barclays Center, “I’m just trying to play the game like I always have. You’re playing the same dimensions as it always has been. Certainly, there’s some different bounces and I think you get more used to the ice conditions and things like that. Our crowd has been great, our fans have been great, another great atmosphere, so that’s brought a lot of that energy and, you know, that passion. They give us that extra boost.”

Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo said of Barclays, “It’s starting to feel like home. To play three games here helps, and another one at home on Saturday (against San Jose), so starting to get acclimated and get used to the surroundings. (The ice) was alright, it was a little bouncy at times, but not bad.”

Nashville scored just two minutes and 14 seconds into the game, as they crashed the net right off the faceoff, as Austin Watson blasted one in to make it 1-0.

Even though they outshot the Islanders 15-6, the game remained 1-0 heading into the second period.

Just over four minutes into the second, James Neal set up Filip Forsberg to make it 2-0.

The Islanders took just 40 seconds to respond, as they got on the board 5:02 into the second, with Tavares and Ryan Strome setting up Anders Lee to get that goal back.

The Islanders started to control play from that point on, and they took advantage of the open ice on a 4-on-4 to tie it up, which Kyle Okposo did on a breakway at the 11:56 mark of the second.

In the third, Brock Nelson and Mikhail Grabovsky set up Nikolay Kulemin at the side of the net for the go-ahead goal 6:42 in.

Just over five minutes later, it was Taveres who made it 4-2 with 8:11 remaining. Nashville got that back when James Neal broke through with 5:24 remaining, but that was it.

With the goal and assist, Tavares now has six points in the Islanders’ four games to start the season.

Tavares said of his fast start, “Just trying to play my game, obviously a majority of our games have been at home. Playing with Anders (Lee) and Stromie (Ryan Strome) is great, they’re easy to play with, so just try to create my opportunities and when you get them, you want to bury them. Just try to keep it going and stay consistent.”

Tavares said of the momentum change in the game, “I think it was back and forth, I don’t think we ever had full control for a really long period of time. I think we’ve had some good shifts and some good momentum, plus we had some good chances. We were able to capitalize on some chances, but we just stuck with it. I thought Kyle’s goal was a big goal to tie the game, obviously, I think Kuli’s (Kulemin) goal to give us the lead got us going there a little bit. We were a little sluggish coming out in the third again, and it was able to get us some confidence and back on our toes, and any time you get the lead, especially at home late in the game, it’s huge.”

Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss notched his second straight win, as he made 44 saves.

Greiss said of facing 47 Nashville shots, “Always nice to get a bunch of shots. It was a lot of shots, but a lot from the outside. The guys did a good job sealing the rebounds and keeping it away from danger zones.”

Capuano said of Greiss, “I thought goaltending was good tonight. Just watching them, I knew they were gonna shoot a lot of pucks after that New Jersey game, when they had just 21. Going back and look at that tape, I guarantee you 15 to 20 shots came from the red line. They won a lot of face-offs, Weber I think he had 15 shots in the first two periods. Once they won the face-off, they fired at the net and they got the matchup they wanted.”

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