First, a vocabulary clarification: I often refer to the "bonus" point in the NHL's "The people demand a winner" OT/SO regime. That's not to sugarcoat a loss, just to reflect that "loss" doesn't quite describe what happened. To me, a loss means you got nothing, a tie (remember those?) means you shared the spoils, and an OT game these days is ... something that requires four stat columns to adequately describe. This one hurts because the club conceded the extra point to a division rival. I don't like that two-point games magically become three-point games just because both teams were even for 60 minutes, but I'll try to get over it.
So then, on to the 3-2 "OT loss:" Overall, a strong effort with some hard luck, but again the Islanders are handcuffed by their lack of scoring punch. Lots of Doug Weight stickhandling well but lacking a finisher to serve; lots of Bill Guerin shooting but with a declining conversion rate (he did get the first Islanders goal); lots of Mike Comrie wondering where he fits now; lots of wild-card efforts from the batch of youngsters.
Part of these struggles could be due to players figuring out how to maximize chances in Scott Gordon's system. But I doubt that, as they've showed periods of great pressure now without demonstrating a sniper's ability to score.
Of course, we knew offensive troubles would be a recurring theme this year. So I can whine about it or I can look for signs of progress (Okay, probably both). Entering the third down 2-1, and with a four-game (non-OT) losing streak, the Islanders impressed by pressuring most of the period and coming up with the tying goal. Still, that tying goal came on a fortuitous bounce from Andy Hilbert, who is not the "go-to" guy you're expecting to come up big in that situation.
- Sticking to the game plan and coming back to tie it was a good sign of fight -- yielding a needed point amid this frustrating losing streak.
- The OT power play was fruitless but not worthless. They created the chances they needed to win it.
- Andy Sutton returned and played 20+ minutes capably.
- Joey McDonald again turned in a steady performance -- though he's starting to position far out of his net in a scoutable, back-door-vulnerable way.
- The game was on Trent Hunter's stick in OT. A tough conversion after collecting the rebound off the end boards, but we needed that.
- Great tip by Carter on the Flyers' second goal, but he was way too free in front of the Islanders goal.
- Mitch Fritz dressed but got a mere ration of ice time. That will tick off fans who have been clamoring for him to dress and fight; it also tells me Gordon doesn't trust him to take a regular shift.
- Two full minutes of OT power play without a goal never feels good. Following that by giving up the winner on the opponent's PP feels dreadful.
- The Rangers won again, over Atlanta 3-2.