For some unknown reason, Devils meathead David Clarkson insisted on a fight 40 seconds in against Tim Jackman. (Incidentally, Chico Resch wondered if Jackman's place was to "send a message." God love ya' Chico, but do some homework: Gordon has started his fourth line in every game this season that I recall.)
That created an early Islanders powerplay, which actually became a brief, unsuccessful 5-on-3 ... which was indicative of the Islanders' night. Despite entering the 2nd with a 1-0 lead, that was all she wrote. Only two more powerplays drawn all night, with nothing to show for them.
The packaged theme on the Isles MSG+2 (twice the plus!) broadcast, both in pregame and the 1st intermission, was Sean Bergenheim's scoring drought -- almost as if the Islanders production team was trying to will him to score. He didn't do that, but his diligent work along the boards created the Isles' only highlight, a tap-in goal by Frans Nielsen that, just briefly, suggested we might see bad Yann Danis. Not so. Danis was unbeaten the rest of the night, while Martin Biron let in a Cory Murphy stinker for a tying goal, though he stopped 29 shots to Danis's 23 and couldn't be faulted on Brian Rolston's trademark powerplay blast from the point.
Had Kyle Okposo's try in the final minute scooted over the line instead of along it, we might be writing a different review. But that's hockey: Ryan Miller gets blown out by the NYI one night, comes back to shutout the Isles the next, then concedes five to the Flyers at home. Likewise, the Islanders powerplay keys early season offense, the team can rally with four wins on strong 5-on-5 play, then lay two tepid eggs in Buffalo and Newark. It's a thin line between joy and horror.
I'll agree with the coach on this one:
"I was disappointed with our play," Gordon said. "We had a first period where we didn't allow ourselves to build off the momentum of scoring that goal. We weren't efficient enough on our forecheck in the second period and took penalties and then we didn't establish any momentum and that hurt."
But if you (wisely) missed this dull one, you can see the Cliff Notes for yourself:
So the Devils tied it up early in the second on the forementioned weak goal. Soon after, they got their next futile powerplay, where no one looked alive and no shots were delivered. No Islanders forwards were used for more than 18 minutes tonight other than Okposo (21:49), and that makes sense, because no one really earned it and Okposo simply shows up every. single. night.
The Devils defense certainly played their part in limiting shots, and Danis made a few saves that required at least NHL-level skill. But regardless of the opponent, this was simply not enough.
I don't know if we should call this a funk, but since the Islanders' four-game win streak -- the fourth of which depended on two Brendan Witt goals and a weakened opponent -- they've given us two thoroughly uninspiring games in a row.
So go the growing pains.
Radek Martinek, Explodabones
It's become a somber tradition, but we have our first Radek Martinek injury watch of the year. Martinek, who skated 20+ minutes, did not see the ice after the 14:16 mark of the 3rd period. Reports are that he's being evaluated, but there were no updates on his condition last night. [UPDATE: Blown ACL, out for the year. Damn, that's about right.]
I speak often of the Islanders' thin margin of error, and I'd say at this point part of that margin requires Martinek rather than Freddy Meyer in the lineup. Saturday night the Islanders face a Thrashers team without Ilya Kovalchuk (who I assume Martinek would normally be assigned to watch), but Atlanta still poses an offensive threat to a sub-par Islanders blueline. We'll need all hands on deck.
Here's hoping everyone comes to play.