How does one even begin to encapsulate a game where Matt Moulson scored four goals, the Islanders blew a 3-0 lead, Nino Niederreiter was symptom-like concussed on his first shift, Rick DiPietro and Michael Grabner left the game with groin injuries, and the Islanders win 5-4, collecting nine goals in two games?
Oh, also: The Islanders extended what is now a 3-0-1 run -- all away from the Coliseum.
Most knew this game was winnable, even with sub-.900 Rick DiPietro in the net, but who could have expected it to play out quite like this?
How Matt Moulson Scores Four Goals in Fourty Minutes
Goal 1: Islanders powerplay, generally good movement (yes, even with Brian Rolston at the left point). P.A. Parenteau keys it with a quick-decision pass to Mark Streit. Streit puts the shot on, Moulson finishes the "this is why I'm here" rebound. (Parenteau does not get an assist on the play, because Tavares knocks Streit's shot back into the area where Moulson can clean it up.)
Goal 2: Hilariously, this is all Tavares yet he shoots wide after several moves ... and Moulson sweeps in the rebound from the other side of the net.
Goal 3: Once again, this took a great shot from Moulson, but it's not possible if John Tavares doesn't do a little bit of magic hands, with an unexpected low-angle horizontal pass across the crease to Moulson. Great shot from Matty Mo, great pass from Johnny T.
Goal 4: So it's 4-4 and life kinda sucks because the Isles have blown a 3-0 lead AND they've blown the 4-3 lead that Moulson/JT quickly got back for them. But ... remember the question about claiming Sheldon Souray when he made a billion dollars from the Oilers? Awful play by Souray at the point, P.A. Parenteau is off to the races, and he makes a sweet pass on the 2-on-1 to Moulson, who just needs to tap and elevate for his fourth goal of the night.
If you don't read ample praise for Tavares and Parenteau in that four-goal rundown, you should. Both were excellent, and it's nice to see the overdue first-line get some puck luck. What's crazy is Moulson could have easily had five or six -- and he was blocking shots as time wound down and the Isles preserved their one-goal lead throughout the third period..
On that note, it's nice to see the Islanders as a team get some puck luck, albeit Andrew Raycroft-aided. They haven't been great by any means, but they've been better than 29th in the league so far. The last two nights, Fortune's Wheel spun just slightly their way.
Fistric Jumps into Nino, Leaps on to Shanahan's Radar*
*Surely. I mean...right? You don't get a waiver just because you exploded up towards a guy's head but totally only meant to explode up into his chest? Like, you chose the leap over the hip check...that doesn't give you a pass, right? Let us know, Shanny. Let us know.
Puck Daddy's Harrison Mooney was also more sympathetic to Fistric, using the "hit caused the leaving the feet" defense. Question: If he threw the more reasonable and inviting hip check in this situation, would the hit have caused him to leave his feet? Or is there something about high hits that inherently feeds one leaving their feet?
The Goalie Situation
Once again, it wasn't quite the specific goals Rick DiPietro let up, although two of them could be filed in the "rough," "want that one back" or "Really?!" category. Rather, it's that on aggregate he's letting in more of those than is tolerable at this level (save percentage: .876). To put it another way: DiPietro made some nice saves during his 40 minutes. But Al Montoya, in his 20 minutes of relief, made several that you don't expect him to make, but which NHL goalies regularly do in "stealing" games.
The other harsh dose of reality: How many Islanders fans were crestfallen to hear their starter left the game during the 2nd intermission?
The Injury Situation
Nino Niederreiter's concussion-like symptoms are a concern both for now and for his career. He's just 19, it's early, and you have to be careful with the kid. That means it may be a little while before we see him again. Between the fluke training camp groin impingement and this, what a rookie year for the kid.
So Evgeni Nabokov is on the shelf with a groin, DiPietro is on the shelf with a groin, Michael Grabner left in the third with a groin ... that leaves at least one goalie callup from the Bridge, with the potential for a forward. Also: Dylan Reese had one goal and one defensive brainfart. Sort of par for his NHL career so far, but not bad. I was actually quite pleased with his corralling and decision-making on his goal, when another defenseman might have panicked. Reese, pulled the wobbly puck back, threw it through traffic, and received his reward.
That said, Reese was ball-watching on Eric Nystrom goal. I don't mind a Nystrom goal in an Islanders win, but still.
Speaking of, Mike Mottau was minus-3 again.
Post-Game Video at MSG
Parenteau, Hamonic, Tavares:
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P.S. We've talked realignment before, and we'll talk it again. The latest Canadian media leak indicates that, rather than split the Atlantic, a four-division proposal would reconstitute the Patrick while splitting up the Southeast. I can dig it.
Final Word: The Islanders have 21 points in 24 games, the Hurricanes have 20 points in 28. Fail for Nail may be elusive, my friends.