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New York Islanders

Intense Practice Brings Out Islanders’ Frustrations After Brutal Loss




East Meadow, NY– The intensity level was noticeably–and necessarily–raised for the New York Islanders at practice Thursday morning following their brutal loss less than 24 hours ago.

On Wednesday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins walked into UBS Arena and kicked their feet up on the table without bothering to take off their shoes, leaving the Islanders with a 7-0 loss.

“You have to come every night and do the things that you need to do in order to win hockey games,” head coach Lane Lambert said. “We got shown that last night, and we learned a hard lesson.”

To ensure that lesson was learned, Lambert put his players through 45 minutes of exhaustive work at Northwell Health Ice Center, where the energy on display was more than any had against Pittsburgh.

The practice was cathartic for the team as they exercised their frustrations on each other and their equipment. A few sticks were the victim of being swung into the boards with forceful anger.

“Nobody’s happy with how things went last night,” Bo Horvat said. “It was a perfect practice for after a game like that. A lot of battle, a lot of compete, and taking frustrations out of your teammates, but in a good way. We needed it.”

In a cruel way, the Islanders may have needed to suffer a loss like they did.

Prior to facing Pittsburgh, they collected points in 17 of 19 games. Wednesday’s loss was only their third by a multi-goal margin during that stretch.

“It was a humbling game,” Horvat said. “Just when you think you’re playing well and doing well, the hockey gods come and kick you right back down to keep you level-headed.”

As much as the practice was about learning from the loss to Pittsburgh, it was equally about preparing for the next game.

Against the Washington Capitals tomorrow night, the Islanders’ performance will speak volumes regardless of the result.

Gauthier and Wahlstrom Continue Battle For Spot In Lineup:

The season is nearly at its halfway point, and the right wing spot on the Islanders’ third line still hasn’t been officially claimed by anyone.

Julien Gauthier and Oliver Wahlstrom have traded opportunities, taking turns playing in the seemingly forever-open position. Neither, though, has asserted themself over the other.

Gauthier appeared to in recent weeks, playing in a stretch of 12 straight games until he was forced to sit after takig an inadvertent high stick to the eye against the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 19.

Since then, he and Wahlstrom have returned to their usual back and forth.

“I thought I was playing well,” Gauthier said. “Maybe it’s just one of those things that you don’t play. I hope I’ll get back into it soon.”

Wahlstrom was in the lineup for the Islanders against Pittsburgh. He finished the evening a -3 while playing the least amount of ice time of any Islander.

“As far as Wahlstrom goes, he was like everybody else,” Lambert said. “I didn’t really give anybody a high mark last night.”

To read the tea leaves for a moment, Wahlstrom was still out on the ice after practice Thursday. That’s usually a pretty clear indicator that a player won’t be in the lineup for their team’s next game.

Injury Notes:

Semyon Varlamov did not participate in practice this morning. The goalie is considered day-to-day with maintenance, and his status for Friday is undetermined.

Because a team needs two goalies to practice, the Islanders called up Ken Appleby from AHL Bridgeport to work in Varlamov’s place for the time being. Defenseman Grant Hutton was sent down in a corresponding move.

Casey Cizikas was absent from practice with an illness. Lambert expects him to play on Friday.

Scott Mayfield continues to participate during practice while he works his way back from an upper-body injury that has sidelined him since Dec. 11. There is no expectation for Mayfield to be taken off of injured reserve at this moment, according to Lambert.




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