Exhausting game to watch, both thanks to frustration and a frenetic pace made all the wilder by a stream of generous turnovers from both teams. Al Montoya and James Reimer took turns keeping it so close and low-scoring, while each team repeatedly handed gifts to the opposition -- the Leafs by taking undisciplined penalties, the Islanders by conceding a bushel of odd-man rushes.
Though more than anything -- or at least on par with their sloppiness and three awful first-period powerplays -- the Islanders just looked exhausted. The Leafs set a high tempo early on, and the Isles suffered by losing Milan Jurcina early to a groin injury, then losing Travis Hamonic late to a 10-minute misconduct of unknown origin. (Matt Martin, Zenon Konopka and Micheal Haley were mixing it up after Colby Armstrong threw a high hit on Haley; not sure how Hamonic and Michael Brown got 10-minute calls along with Konopka.)
Notes of Ennui
- I'll say this though: Not only did Montoya make quite a few outstanding saves, but like last game the Isles D corps was good at getting to the rebounds and sweeping them away. Interpreting rebounds is always a dicey game, but it can't be argued that Montoya stopped the shots he could see, and the D got to the puck after that.
- Which was all the more impressive given how shorthanded they were. Bruno Gervais played 23 minutes, Jack Hillen played 24, and Andrew MacDonald played almost 28. It finally caught up to them by the end.
- The Fourth Line: It's probably not a good sign for the rest of the team when your fourth line is generating some of your most competent play. But that's indeed what happened (and maybe they were freshest after playing less yesterday afternoon). Zenon Konopka, Micheal Haley and Matt Martin had several good shifts, especially in the first half of the game when the rest of the roster was spinning its gears in a turnover drag race.
- That said, Konopka was called for a 10-minute misconduct at a poor time, and we could use his help preventing Hamonic from doing the same.
- To be fair to Hamonic though: Again, I didn't see what caused it, and he said this as reported by Katie Strang after the game: : "I'm going to have to go back and really look at the tape to see what I did to necessitate that 10-min misconduct."
- Pretty disappointing to see Mike Komisarek dump Jesse Joensuu with a blindside, shot to the lower back after the whistle; that's toolish stuff I can do without in this sport. Worse, it went uncalled.
- On the other hand, I really liked Reimer's game and his post-game interview made his story all the more likeable. I can do with more of that in this sport.
- The two goals, by big Leafs scorers Clarke MacArthur and Phil Kessel (GW), were off rushes where they were able to cross the backpedaling Isles defense up and shoot on Montoya through traffic.
- The Islanders goal, which tied it up at 1-1 midway through the second, was Matt Moulson's 27th, on a rebound of Andrew MacDonald's shot on the powerplay.
- That powerplay was brief and better than anything the Isles put up in three attempts in the first period. Things may have been slightly botched by the fresh (or lack thereof) bodies available at the beginning of each of those powerplays, but they didn't sustain much possession in the offensive zone and had a tough time even getting there.
- In the end, Reimer made 28 saves while Montoya made 23, but you could've sworn it was one of those 40-shot nights for either team. The back-and-forth rushes and the heart-stopping turnovers probably fed that impression.
- FIG winner: meigs1414 is our FIG winner for picking Moulson with the closest time. (Not surprisingly, no one who picked Moulson guessed A-Mac for an assist.)
I must be all recapped out, because that's all I've got. The Islanders likely felt the fatigue of a back-to-back with travel tonight, but they unquestionably suffered from being without both Radek Martinek and Milan Jurcina, who played just 2:18 before being shelved for good.
That makes for more of a familiar theme: Dinged up blueline needing enforcements from dinged up blueline depth throughout the organization. We'll see what tomorrow brings, because the Flyers await in Philly Thursday, and the Islanders can't afford to visit them with a lineup of mostly bottom pair D-men.