Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald scored on a breakaway. I figure that oddity is enough to succinctly recall how this one went.
The breakaway goal was actually MacDonald's second of the game, and it was sandwiched around a goal by Blues forward Andy McDonald, whose turnover sent our A-Mac on the breakaway where he potted a nice shot upstairs over Ben Bishop's glove hand.
Other feel-good moments from a game where the Blues never looked alive outside of the opening five minutes: An outright sick dekey-dangle goal by John Tavares, a sweet 2-on-1 conversion from Michael Grabner to P.A. Parenteau, and a Grabner break-in goal to end his post-February To Remember slump.
Not feel-good: Parenteau being momentarily "possessed by Nate Thompson" [h/t Zhora in game thread] by missing a wide open net after Bishop strangely skated out to the blueline. That miss at 0-0 actually made me wonder if it would be one of those games, but Parenteau quickly put an end to those fears by having a part in both first-period goals.
This game could have been soooo much worse for the Blues, who look like a team who know their seasonlong goal is no longer achievable. They weren't able to respond after losing the first period 2-0, and they opened the third period (down 3-0 then) by giving up consecutive breakaways to Matt Moulson and Grabner, neither of whom could convert. Could have been 6-0 before it ever became 3-0.
Speaking of which, post-game reaction:
"Everything is wrong," said David Backes, the Blues' leading goal scorer. "It's not very enjoyable to be here every day."
Blues coach Davis Payne, who called a timeout early after JT's wild goal:
"Not enough intensity," Payne said. "We believe we have the right kind of players. We just need the right kind of effort."
Notes from an Easy Afternoon
- MacDonald's other goal was on a well-placed slapper from the point through traffic that clanged in off the inside of the post. Matt Martin set it up by feeding A-Mac. Martin has given that line with Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau a different look, and Bailey mentioned on the WHRU intermission interview that he likes it.
- The shots were only 23-22 for the Blues, but this is one of those occasions where the quality of shooting opportunities and/or scoring chances was potent. The Isles' opportunities were prime, Bishop was left out to dry, and the Isles converted on a reasonable number to keep the game out of doubt. Nine different Islanders had points today.
- It almost goes without saying these days, but Al Montoya was again solid, giving them the proverbial "chance to win."
- Tavares's Pretty Moment: Many talked after the last game how Tavares, despite being pointless, was dominant and manipulating the puck with ease like he was back in the OHL. Today's first goal was such a moment (it's in the clip above), as he took PAP's cross-ice pass, deked TJ Oshie out of his skates, faked forehand before pulling it to the backhand again and slipping a goal just inside the post. Just minutes before that, a Blues fan friend at a pub where I watched the first two periods asked me, "So how is Tavares looking?" Pretty good, I said. Pretty good.
- Crooked score sheet: With five even strength goals for and only one against, the game sheet was filled with Islanders pluses and Blues minuses. Also notable there is the fourth line got about 10 minutes, probably a good approach given another game on the docket tomorrow.
DiBo: I think we're seeing Justin DiBendetto's "Jon Sim-like qualities." Other teams just seem to take an instant disliking to him. Plus, I mean Wednesday showed you can check him from behind and only get two minutes.
- It's true what they say: Obviously, the Islanders really are thugs, as now even Frans Nielsen is taking penalties. His slashing call was his 25th and 26th penalty minute of the season and 51st and 52nd penalty minute of his career. Goon.
But seriously, Matt Martin and BJ Crombeen had an uneventful arm's reach fight, although I'm sure Bob Errey would call it a mismatch. At the closing whistle, Micheal Haley and Barret Jackman had a wee kerfuffle, with Jackman elbowing Haley (for what, who knows) and Haley responding with extreme prejudice by dropping the gloves and taking Jackman to the ice. They were given 2 minutes each for roughing, with Jackman also getting 2 for the elbow at 20:00. Blues announcers, including studio man Tony Twist, were appalled by Haley's reaction, but I'd submit that if you don't want someone to come after you, don't elbow him in the waning seconds and act like there is more to be done.
Truly, I don't really get off on hockey fights, but I do like the Isles putting a stop to silly stuff with swift, harsh reaction. The days of pretending the officials or the NHL Office of Well-Intentioned headshots will do anything are over. If you missed it, Garth Snow spoke about Trevor Gillies' hit and suspension [nhl.com]. There are also links to the full audio/video of Snow's comments at the end of the bullets in the game thread.
FIG Winner: Bryan2112 nailed the first goal scorer and both assists (Parenteau, Hamonic), so he takes the win. As an aside, Bryan2112 is one of the LHH members I have met in person, at the Puck Daddy NYC party in December. I can attest to his sartorial excellence embodied by a Kasparaitis jersey.
This five-game homestand and wild journey continues tomorrow afternoon, 3 p.m. this time, as the Devils visit. Some have mentioned how fun it would be to end the Devils' playoff push by beating them, but I can't help thinking: Wouldn't the more evil thing be to let them win and thus sustain the illusion that they actually have a chance?