By the run of play, this one was never in doubt. The Kings are a very good team on a roll, the Islanders are a fragile team on a 10-game winless streak whose players speak almost desperately of the need to get the first goal during this painful streak. That hope was not fulfilled; tonight a fortunate carom just 1:23 into the game set up Anze Kopitar for an easy one, and away the Kings went.
Deflated, the Islanders fell behind 2-0 just 3:39 later, eliciting an early timeout from Scott Gordon. They responded, got a goal back from Rob Schremp 37 seconds later, even followed that goal with another strong shift where you thought they might compete the rest of the night. But similar shifts were too few and far between. The better team ran away with it. The worse team goes home in last place overall, still scrambling to find out how to score more than one goal per game. They have till Wednesday before they get to try again.
The lone bright spot? This insane run of 12 road games in their first 17 is finally over. Their home record stands at 2-2-1, their road record at 2-8-2.
Notes and Laments
- Turning Point, or Final Nail: The Islanders were outshot 34-19, including an end-of-trip exhausted 13-3 in the final period. But the last hope for stealing their way back into this one ended when, with the score 3-1 in the 2nd period, James Wisniewski and Mark Eaton tossed the puck back and forth behind the Islanders net until the Kings forecheck arrived, stole the puck, and quickly converted. Just curious decision-making with a fatal lack of urgency.
- Dustin Brown won a penalty shot and converted on Dwayne Roloson. his pretty double-deke got Roloson's legs open to slip it in 5-hole, same as the Sharks' first shootout conversion the other night. This may be nothing and those are hard moves to stop in any setting, but I do suspect Roloson's paddle is slow to ever get over and block the 5-hole in that situation.
- Rob Schremp returned to the lineup to not only score, but also go 7-1 on faceoffs. Frans Nielsen was 10-2.
Jack Hillen was a late scratch (illness), leaving the Islanders with just five defensemen after heading out West with just six healthy blueliners. Jon Sim, who would've been the healthy scratch, was essentially so anyway, getting just two shifts. Each defenseman logged over 20 minutes, with Wisniewski's team-high 27:10 inflated by 5:42 of PP time.
- The Isles were 0-4 on the PP (technically 0-5, but one was aborted by an awful penalty call on Nielsen, and total time was just over 7 minutes). At no point was there enough sustained pressure against the Kings' top-ranked PK to learn anything; but Schremp's time on the right low point/half boards hybrid position provided glimpses. When he is confident and making smart, saucered passes, it gets the defense running around.
- Hits vary from rink to rink so I'm not sure what the Kings' rink bias is, but they recorded 31-27 (Isles) in the hits department. It was a physical game, surprisingly so for an inter-conference game. The Kings came out like they wanted to crush the hopes of a downtrodden team at the end of a road trip. The Islanders were physical in response, but the part of the game involving the puck didn't go their way.
- Misery Loves Company: The Leafs are now winless in eight (including two shootout "losses") so they are doing their best to keep the Isles company with the Oilers and Devils. Not coincidentally, the Leafs are also offense-challenged.
- Missing MacDonald: WebBard looked it up and found the Islanders are 27-29 all-time when Andrew MacDonald is in the lineup. MacDonald has not been in the lineup the last 10 games.
Obligatory Radiohead lyric: There's...such a chill. Such a chi-ill...