Well, that was undistinguished.
The Islanders started very poorly and found themselves in a 1-0 hole when Loui Eriksson was left all by his lonesome in front of young Kevin Poulin. Then they fought back with one each in the first (Grabner off a strong pass from Okposo) and second (Okposo directly) to hold the lead... ahhh, a lead... ahhh, but then came the cursed third period, where for the third consecutive game, the Isles gave up an easy goal to a poorly-covered forward to start things off.
The game thread featured a lot of angst as things came unraveled... and Jack Capuano was not much happier in his postgame comments. One of the very first things he mentioned was the breakdown on the tying goal by Brenden Morrow - "The strongside defender was too high" or words to that effect - and the next thing was the breakdown on the third goal, where a poorly-chosen moment to pinch led to a 3-on-1 breakout and a short-side wrister by Jamie Benn for the deciding goal.
"I don't like to mention names," Capuano added, but the name on both of those plays was the captain, Mark Streit, who has been struggling badly in the past week or so. On the tying goal, he found himself wandering and covering nobody, leaving Travis Hamonic alone in front. When the puck went low, Matt Martin realized that he was closest to the slot and broke off his point to help, but was a step too late. And Streit was the pincher on the firewagon breakout.
Oy, the growing pains, they are painful.
Still, there were positives. Kyle Okposo is still in beast mode, creating both Isles tallies with strong puck possesion and getting shots to the net. Calvin de Haan debuted slow but steady, with his shifts limited in the first two periods before Cappy turned him (relatively) loose in the final stanza - de Haan saw PK and PP time, looked good moving the puck, and was solid in his own end, not looking overmatched by physical play. And the final goal notwithstanding, Poulin was generally sharp, especially on a wicked redirect in the second that he tracked and blockered off. He left noticeably fewer rebounds than his Dallas counterpart, Richard Bachman. In the common parlance of the hockey fan, he gave his team a good chance to win. Dallas, however, seemed to have a stick on every puck the Isles passed or shot... and as the game went on, a stick on every Islander as well, with scrums and chippiness trying to wear down the home team. With Brian Rolston sidelined after the first with a concussion, Capuano was forced to run three lines, with Tim Wallace and David Ullstrom getting cycled in as best as could be.
They get to try it all over again on Saturday, moving from hosting the former Minnesotan hockey club to visiting the new one, the Wild. With their
cap mules veterans falling one-by-one to Islanders Malady, play will have to be carried by that growing group of youngsters that Garth Snow is assembling..