The New York Islanders and Winnipeg Jets battled to a draw for 65 minutes, with the Islanders taking the bonus point via shootout thanks to a P.A. Parenteau forehand speed move and the traditional Frans Nielsen Danish Backhand of Judgment.
It was a pretty pulsating game throughout -- almost exhausting to watch, really -- with each team having its share of lengthy zone pressure followed by dangerous counterattacks the other way.
Al Montoya left the game with a possible head injury late in the second period after Evander Kane did one of those "Wait, I'm not responsible for avoiding the goalie, am I?" rushes toward the net. Milan Jurcina cut him off and Kane went sailing into Montoya's head, but Kane earned every bit of his two-minute minor if not more.
Evgeni Nabokov relieved, thrust into his first appearance since Nov. 17, and did well, stopping a combined 19 shots in the third period and OT, plus two challenging moves in the shootout.
Both Nabokov and Ondrej Pavelec traded saves through traffic during OT, but otherwise that extra frame was more of a careful 4-on-4 chess match, though the Jets outshot the Isles 5-2 there as they continued a push that began in the third period. (Final shot tally: 38-33 for the Jets. It was 22-19 Isles at the 2nd intermission.)
The Islanders extra-time luck appears to have swayed back their way with their first two shootout wins of the year coming in consecutive games on this road trip, with Danish judgment handed down swiftly both times.
Islanders Goals: Very pretty play gaining the zone as John Tavares took it over the line, went lateral, fed a speeding Matt Moulson down the left wing who found P.A. Parenteau for the tap-in at the doorstep. ... FNGO got going on the second, with
Kyle Okposo [edit: Sorry, it was actually local boy Travis Hamonic on this play] intercepting the railed puck on the right wing boards and immediately sending it to the net, where a maze of deflections left it at the far post for Michael Grabner to calmly tap in.
Jets Goals: He was very busy with other saves, but you probably wish Al Montoya makes the stop on the first two Jets goals. The first was a Nik Antropov deflection (off a Johnny Oduya shot) whose new trajectory he didn't read in time. The second was a Jets rush that followed some sustained pressure by the Isles. Andrew Ladd let the shot from distance go through a likely screen and high over the shoulder of Montoya, who was dropping into the butterfly.
Close Calls, Bumps and Other Ouches
Almost, Nino: Matt Martin delivered another wonderful hit on the puckholder behind the Jets net, creating a feed in front that you hope Nino Niederreiter will bury more times than not in his NHL career.
Look Out, Frans: Frans Nielsen (or "France" as they said it on TSN) carried the puck from behind the Isles net, it took one of many Coliseum-esque bounces on the night, causing him to slow and collect the puck as he moved around one Jets forechecker, teeing him up for Mark Stuart to make the predatory big hit. It was a clean and compact hit, though I'm not a fan of taking advantage of players who are victimized not by "head down" syndrome but rather by bounces -- a puck hitting a rut, ref or stanchion to cause them to look down -- but thankfully Nielsen was alright. He would be needed.
Stranger, and perhaps refreshing depending on how you take your hockey tea, was seeing Kyle Okposo immediately stand up to Stuart and taking his own visored helmet off for a fight. (Risky for long-term cranial health; better for avoiding further penalties.) The "fight" was such a non-event, with KO losing his footing/being taken down so quickly that both received roughing penalties only. A nod to "appreciate the effort, but the game's better served by having both of you on the ice. And that fight was weak!" Probably better that way. Message and honor and all that upheld, and onward to a gamelong clash that taxed both teams' top lines.
Travis Hamonic Goes Down: Hamonic, who was playing a great game through the middle of the second period, took a shot just above the knee that was painful to watch. More painful was watching him try to skate it off at first, the pain of the contusion clearly going deep into that muscle. He was back though, and game to give the second intermission interview.
Please Don't Run the Goalies, Thanks: Evander Kane sure appeared to nearly lose it at the refs when he was called for goaltender interference, but, um...you can't bullrush the net, kid. Doesn't matter if you had some contact with the defenseman right before you arrived -- you still headed to the net without a plan to avoid the goaltender. It's amazing how players today think they have a right to go full speed at the goal and not be responsible for avoiding the one player on the ice you're not allowed to hit.
Crossbar!: Pretty play from John Tavares on the powerplay to pull in front and backhand high...off the crossbar, early in the third. Then the team resumed trading chances, with another Parenteau-Moulson connection requiring the best of Ondrej Pavelec.
David Ullstrom Hurt: With about 92 seconds left in OT, David Ullstrom had an odd collision along the boards in the Islanders zone, appearing to hit his head on either the boards or the elbow of the Jet he was checking, ending up on the ice long enough to stop play and bring the trainer.
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Overall, another fun game and solid effort in a building that can be quite electric. NHL.com's Brian Compton pointed out the Islanders are just the second team this month to get a standings point in Winnipeg.
It was the kind of game that used to gave an old fan like yours truly satisfaction after a hard-earned tie. But you better believe after watching shootout coin flips going against the Isles previously, I'll take the bonus points from the past two nights.
Later game, recap is ready, so go ahead and leave your plus/minuses (with that routine) and your other review thoughts here.