Honestly, the blown 4-1 lead (Was it really 4-1? Yes. And we lost 5-4?! sigh...yes.) felt like a knifing. The Islanders had the Habs on an off night, actually took advantage of their chances, built a lead ... and soiled their pants. After the second period, the Canadiens woke up, and the Isles fell into chaos. The horror. The death spiral. A 12-0 shot deficit to start the third? Not the way to finish off a 7-1-1 team.
Always Sometimes Look on the Bright Side of ...
There were gobs and gobs of mistakes: legs stopped moving, three Islanders behind the net, Campoli getting schooled while Gervais vacates his man -- to turn what was a great first 40 minutes into a devastating night. But if those problems persist, we'll have plenty more chances to rehash them (I am losing patience with Pock's presence in the lineup. Could he be a Ranger mole?). So this time, one of the rare times, I'm going to remember the highlights of that glorious first 40 and ignore the on-ice damage and the off-ice carnage like the new knee surgery that will put our franchise goalie out 4-6 weeks.
Because it takes some positive thinking to overcome this stab wound:
- Streit welcoming his old mates with a "remember this" blast-from-the-point goal on the power play.
- Amazing to see Price so sound, square -- going down to his knees (just in case) even when his defenseman is corralling the puck without an Islander in sight -- then look so fundamentally awful on Jon Sim's goal from long range.
- Frans Nielsen showing big-league poise when he was set up in front: Skating backwards, instead of firing it immediately into a square, waiting Carey Price, he pulled it back to load up for a great top-shelf shot from short range. Insane heads-up fake-shot/pass by Bergenheim to Nielsen on the same play.
- Beautiful, surreal and overdue to see the Isles in their classic colors. Numbers on the back were instant flashbacks, particularly whenever Jeff Norton Garry Howatt Bruno Gervais skated by or Wayne Merrick Randy Wood Andy Hilbert crashed the net. Young Brent Sutter Kyle Okposo really had his legs moving out there.
- Mitch Fritz, for your first NHL fight, in your second NHL game, you draw ... Georges Laraque. Good luck! Turns out Fritz did excellently, clearly confounding Laraque by virtue of his long reach and ability to use both hands.
- Yann Danis: a little lucky and a little good ... then a little ordinary. I'll take either of the first two.
- Shocked ... shocked! to see Alexei Kovalev shamelessly dive to draw a penalty in the third. Never knew the guy had that in his game. No really. Then karma got him minutes later as a high stick went uncalled even after he dropped like a sniper got him from 317.
Everything that happened after that shall be stricken from memory. They better channel all this into rolling over Columbus...