Penguins 6, Islanders 5 (OT): Moulson hits 30th, Tavares 24; Lottery fans half-clap

Ah, hockey: You play 'till the end, or you don't play at all.

The Islanders took a few tankers' heartbeats away by surging back in the third to get not one, not two, but three goals to come back and send this one into OT, earning a "crucial" lottery-altering point. But Jordan Leopold potted a perfect top corner shot to give the Penguins a meaningless OT win, keeping the Isles below Tampa in the overall standings and, more importantly for lottery fans, with at least a gambling addict's chance at another first overall pick.

Final tally: Matt Moulson gets 30 goals (although it looked like it hit JT's foot), John Tavares hits 24 (although they tried to give it to Freddy Meyer IV), Kyle Okopso eclipses 50 points, and the Islanders finish 26th overall, with the 5th-best position (8.1% chance) in Tuesday's lottery.

Game Sum. | Event Sum. | Corsi | H2H | Recaps: nhl.com | Isles | PensBurgh



Seriously, the official scorers had a doozie of a game, leaving questions on half the goals: I had to run soon after the buzzer, so I actually delayed this Game 82 post until I knew they had the scoring straight. Didn't want to post, then get home and find out they'd changed the scoring. Again. {still crossing fingers}

This was such a prototypical Game 82 with no standings relevance: Random fights, refs throwing guys into the box for misconducts to prevent further random fights, goals overflowing, Sidney Crosby making individual efforts to goose the numbers. (Apparently there was a Rocket Richard trophy race that, if Twitter is to be believed, like so totally determines Ovechkin vs. Crosby once and forEVAH. In the end...seen Stamkos?)

I'm just happy for Matty Mo -- assuming his goal stands -- for JT going out with a flourish, for Okposo finishing with a sweet postage-stamp goal, and for the Islanders sneaking a surprising three-goal third-period comeback. As has been said many times, the Isles will get another important asset come June. My biggest worry Tuesday is the 17.2% chance that a team above them in the standings wins the lottery and bumps their pick from 5th to 6th.

Game Highlights


Scott Gordon Talks about This Year vs. Last Year


The Islanders' comeback "cost" them one slot in the lottery. A full-on comeback win would have "cost" them two. Seven years from now, it's highly unlikely the difference in players will be enough for anyone to remember.

John Tavares' first goal was a beautiful sniper shot from a standing position. That's the kind of marksmanship we saw from his goal in Boston early in the season, it's the kind we expect more from him throughout next year.

But for me, this day was about Mighty Matt Moulson, the unknown depth winger who did nothing but grab his first sustained chance in the NHL and pot 30 goals. At age 26, the Cornell product has become an NHL regular and led a team in goalscoring. Not bad. Not bad at all. Raved Scott Gordon:

"I can't say enough about the year he's had," Gordon said of Moulson, who will certainly receive a hefty raise this summer. "He came in here and wasn't even expected to be part of our lineup. I don't think any player has heeded whatever advice I have given than Matt Moulson. Every day in practice and every game he played he played like his last."

*  *  *

In the AHL, the good news is the Sound Tigers secured a playoff berth Saturday. The bad news is Sunday's result made their first-round opponent Hershey, who is every bit as dangerous in the AHL as their parent Capitals are in the NHL.

Plenty more here this week and into the summer for player-by-player Islanders' post-mortem, playoff talk, lottery talk, draft talk, free agency talk.

But for now, it's been a fun season and I sincerely thank you readers/participants/fanatics for getting involved. So I'll leave you with this, from future leader Kyle Okposo:

"We grew up a lot over the past couple of years. Next year we're looking to be a playoff team."

Sounds good to me.

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