The Islanders lost another goalie when scheduled starter Kevin Poulin was hurt in warm-ups and then lost 5-3 to the visiting Maple Leafs at the Nassau Coliseum Tuesday night.
Poulin got his skate caught in a rut prior to the game and was helped off the ice. Rookie Mikko Koskinen was pressed into service as the starter while the Isles recalled Joel Martin from Bridgeport on an emergency basis to serve as the backup. Martin was rushed to the Coliseum from Connecticut and arrived towards the end of the second period. The 28-year-old, who started the season with the Odessa Jakalopes of the CHL, quickly got into his gear and sat on the bench for the third period as Koskinen’s backup.
“There wasn’t much time to do anything. I didn’t even have time to be nervous,” Koskinen said. Despite the lack of nerves, the 6’5” Finn allowed goals on the first two shots he faced. Colby Armstrong converted the first from the right circle just 1:29 into the contest while Jay Rosehill deflected a shot by Luke Schenn to give Toronto a quick 2-0 lead just 5:02 later.
Koskinen managed to settle down after that and kept the Leafs off the board until the third period. Meanwhile, the Islanders managed to get back into the game when Matt Moulson scored a power play goal midway through the first period and Michael Grabner put home the rebound of a Radek Martinek shot late in the second period. After 40 minutes the Isles and Leafs were tied 2-2.
The Isles defense sprung a leak in the third period and the Leafs took advantage of the opportunities to open a 5-2 lead. Armstrong made a pretty cross ice pass to Tomas Kaberle to give Toronto a 3-2 lead. The play started when Isles rookie defenseman Ty Wishart pinched and was beaten to the puck at the Maple Leafs blue line. The Isles defense never got back into position on the play.
Phil Kessel made a pretty pass to Nikolai Kulemin to make it 4-2 Leafs after another Isles defensive breakdown before Fredrik Sjostrom closed out the scoring for Toronto with 5:07 left in the game. Rob Schremp’s score with less than two minutes left closed the Isles to within two goals but they could get no closer.
While Isles Coach Jack Capuano felt his rookie goalie battled back after a rough start, he was disappointed with the way the team played in front of him. “We made some mistakes tonight on a couple of the goals that hurt us. We were out of position on Kaberle’s goal for sure and then the turnovers on the next one.”
Forward Matt Moulson agreed with his coach. “I don’t think we gave him [Koskinen] much help. They had a lot of odd-man rushes and a lot of chances from the slot. He made a lot of stops but we can’t hang him out to dry like that.”
The Islanders return to action Thursday night when they travel to Montreal to take on the Canadiens.
Koskinen became the fifth goalie to play for the Islanders this year (Rick DiPietro, Dwayne Roloson, Nathan Lawson and Kevin Poulin are the other four), tying a franchise record.
Bruno Gervais, Blake Comeau and Rick DiPietro were the Isles scratches while Toronto sat out Carl Gunnarsson, John Mitchell and Jonas Gustavsson.
Poulin will have an MRI on his injured knee on Wednesday.
Prior to the game, the Isles announced that forward Trent Hunter will miss the remainder of the season.
Goalie Nathan Lawson skated with the club for the first time since his injury on Tuesday morning. Capuano indicated Lawson may be close to returning.