Good news: Hey, the Islanders powerplay actually produced a goal! Bad news: The penalty kill gave up two. The Islanders played well 5-on-5, with Dwayne Roloson and his post bailing them out two critical times in the first period. But their special teams let them down again. In addition to the Lightning's two PP goals, their third goal was scored before the Isles could regroup after killing off one at the end of the 2nd period.
The Isles were booed off the ice at the end, and with results like these that's no surprise.
When I said before the game that if the Lightning play up to their talent level, it's their game to lose, that's what I meant. Both on the powerplay goals and in their fantastic 5-on-5 in the first period, Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier moved the puck -- with Ryan Malone twice doing the trenchwork finishing -- at a level the Islanders cannot match. Despite the Isles outshooting the Bolts 38-28, that talent spelled the difference.
We can probably call this John Tavares' first official slump at the NHL level. It's now five games without a point and six without a goal -- his longest of the season in both categories. Tonight he only got one shot on goal, plus two more that were blocked. His line looked far less dangerous than the Frans Nielsen line, something reflected in the balance of shots directed at the net on their shifts.
Still -- and not that he will reach the same heights expected of Stamkos -- but looking at Stamkos tonight and all season long tells you what a difference a year can make for a 19-year-old in the NHL.
[Bit more plus highlights and Roloson's crazy goal-line saves video after the jump.]
I would say it could be time to reunite the Moulson/Tavares/Okposo line to get them going, but Okposo with Bailey and Nielsen actually had some nice chemistry tonight. Their best shift created the Islanders' second goal which, ironically, was scored by Nate Thompson (?!) because those forwards had kept the puck in the Lightning end long enough to live through a line change.
Rob Scrhemp continues to work hard, but without much result. It's not that he's creating things that his linemates aren't converting -- he's just not creating much danger at 5-on-5, period. And of course, he's part of a powerplay unit that isn't posing much of a threat now either.
But for now, enjoy Roloson's insane acrobatics on the goal line, which kept this a game for much longer than it otherwise would have been:
And for the rest of the game highlights, including some nifty goals by both sides (NATE THOMPSON?! and a nifty Hillen-Bailey-Hunter connection),
we'll add them later, but whenever they're posted you can find them here, here you go:
This road is getting rough, and not looking any easier in the days ahead.