Oh, I don't really mean that flippant cliche-speak of "A playoff team would finish the job there." Like saying a goalie should "bear down" and really make a save with the game tied -- cue Slapshot owner: "Let's really try to win this one, guys" -- I think we ascribe too much meaning to situational context.
But in some ways the cliche is appropriate: A playoff or playoff hopeful team (Carolina, in this instance) won that game in the third period. Another team -- say a team whose blueline is essentially the last men standing, plus a hobbled Ty Wishart and Jack Hillen -- allowed that one to slip away. However, there were many oh-so-close moments in the second period where the Islanders, controlling play for 40 minutes, nearly put this one away. Cam Ward and his posts had something to do with preventing that.
Holding a 2-1 lead in the second period, the Isles hit the post at least twice with prime opportunities from the high slot area (Blake Comeau on a one-timer rang both posts, Radek Martinek from the shallow point rang one). Maybe those go differently and the Islanders take a 3-1 or even 4-1 lead into the third and it ends differently. Like they did against the Rangers.
But my hat's off to the Hurricanes for "bearing down" in the third and winning a game they had to. Joe Corvo's goal three minutes into that frame tied it, Eric Cole's goal three minutes later gave them the margin they needed. In tomorrow's games, they could leap the Rangers for the 8th seed.
Looked like the Isles might get the gift they needed in front of the sellout crowd when Jamie McBain did the dreaded puck-over-the-glass with 92 seconds left, giving the Isles a powerplay that would become 6-on-4 once Montoya was pulled. Alas.
Game Notes from a DVR That Should Be Haley'd
- My DVR had fits with this game, so I don't feel like I saw it well enough to make more than a few specific pronouncements. Fill me in.
- For example, as told in comments apparently Kyle Okposo laid a fantastic hit on Chad LaRose? Not in the nhl.com highlights package (in fact they have zilch listed under the hits category there).
Josh Bailey filling in for rightful Bobby Nystrom Award winner Frans Nielsen -- invisible or something else? Katie Strang reported that Capuano had mixed the lines up a bit over the course, and the head-to-head chart doesn't show any significant matching, so...small sample tonight. Screw my cable company.
- Jesse Joensuu got the first Isles goal on a fantastic shot, and it sounds like many were happy with his game. My stance on qualifying him as an RFA remains: Do so. IF he's open to continuing his development past three years on the Bridgeport shuttle, that is. I just think it's a shame to end a big man's development cycle so early. (And I think he'd at minimum continue to help Bridgeport.) You don't generally have everything in life figured out by age 23.
- So Trevor Gillies got a reputation penalty right off the bat then, eh?
- Not blame exactly but an observation: Al Montoya appeared pretty deep in his crease on the goals allowed. There are a couple of spots in his game that, like every non superstar goalie (and some stars, too), may need addressing from time to time. In particular, Cole was all alone on his equalizer -- obviously not Montoya's fault, that -- but he had a lot of room for the redirection given Montoya's station.
- Mark Katic's gamble in the final minute on the bouncing puck at the blueline with a 6-on-4 ended badly, but it's a gamble that could have ended well and it's a lesson I sure don't mind him learning at this time of year in a season like this one. Before injuries last year Katic was seen as the next callup before Dustin Kohn, and now that I've seen them both I think I understand why.
- So many NHLers have hands that 99% of people who have picked up a hockey stick can only dream of. So it's something to see a guy like John Tavares who has hands better than 99% of those guys. His tip wasn't terribly special by NHL standards. But I just get the feeling it's something we're going to see 100 more times before his story is complete.
- With both battling injuries, Jack Hillen (11:56) and Ty Wishart (12:04) were used with care, allowing Jack Capuano to rely heavily on Travis Hamonic and Radek Martinek while trying out Katic and Dylan Reese in a lot of roles including both special teams units. That's one nice bonus of being out of it in the final week.
On that last topic, Capuano said:
"They played the power play [in Bridgeport] and I thought that they were very good tonight. You know what, the guys that come up, I have no problem giving them ice time, and I have the utmost confidence in those guys that have been around for a long time."
And a little more about JJ's goal here. It wasn't just the velocity of A Finn Named Jesse's shot, it was his location and approach:
"I saw that no one was around me so I was able to gather some speed," Joensuu said. "I didn’t feel like I could have taken him wide so I wanted to shoot from his feet so the goalie wouldn’t see it. I was lucky that it went in."
Every goal needs a bit of luck, Jesse; but a smart approach like that goes a long way.
FIG Non-Winner: Sadly, JJ's goal means there was no FIG (First Islanders Goal) pick winner here, since no one picked big 58.
Recaps with more insight than mine - Again, my DVR robbed me of major chunks of this game, so check out other views for a full picture: NYI FYI | 7th Woman | Canes perspective at Canes Country | Point Blank (plus Chris Botta on his non-role in the PHWA chapter boycott thing)
Related to the latter: Islesblogger's thoughtful take on the action from three PHWA chapters. Disclosure: I know Mike (Islesblogger), he's a friend, and he is still an author at this site; I've also been helped by praise and traffic from Chris, who's been very kind to me. And of course I openly follow/root for the team at the center of this. So take my many potential biases for what they're worth.
(I don't consider myself a part of the issue, but occasionally I'm mentioned or asked about it: I do have some access -- limited by time and geography -- and it can be revoked just like anyone's, and there is no army that would care. So: As I've said before, it looks from the outside like an inter-personal issue with personalities I don't know well and I'm neither in the room nor in the same city, so I'm not going to speculate beyond what I've said in the past about PR philosophy/implications from the Isles' decision.
I should add that awards voting is a non-issue to me, as I don't generally trust the voter rationale nor the voting population for NHL awards. If Grabner or Nielsen suffer because local "dues-paying" writers boycott the vote, that only supports my point that NHL awards are determined by a good portion of voters who don't look at all the data.)
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The Islanders are now off until Wednesday, when they face the Bruins. Good thing too (not the Bruins part), because this three games in four nights stretch is now over...until that game, which is the start of another 3-in-4 to finish out the 2010-11 season. I mentioned to Mrs. Lighthouse why that dwindling schedule made me especially ticked that the DVR mangled this game for me tonight (we were out with friends, and I came back to watch a truncated recording with intermittent audio and MSG+2-like symptoms).
"Only three games left? Wow, we are close!" she said, with an evident twinkle in her eye she politely tried to mask. She puts up with a lot so I can do this site, so I won't begrudge her momentary joy. But she forgot about our playoff coverage, the draft insanity, and the player report cards that make sure the fun doesn't end here just because the Islanders season has. (Speaking of lottery implications: Both Ottawa and Florida lost in regulation, keeping them two points behind. No assumptions are safe on any given night.)