Matt Moulson wasn't allowed to be the hero thanks to some bizarre archaeological reading of the long expired crease rule applied to John Tavares, but that's okay. Travis Hamonic stepped up with a bullet from the point just inside the post to tie the game at 3-3 with just 35 seconds to go. A few chances were traded in OT but none converted, so the game went to the breakaway drill where Chris Kunitz had the only conversion.
Before Hamonic's heroics (and Moulson's aborted one), Blake Comeau had another fine late-season game by notching two goals from the doorstep to erase a 2-0 Penguins lead. The first was initiated by smart board play by Jesse Joensuu -- who had another quietly effective game -- but the second was all Michael Grabner on the powerplay, as Grabner circled the net with speed, drawing a trio of panicked Penguins who left Comeau wide open to the left wing side of the Pens' net.
Alas, the 2-2 tie did not last long. The game seemed to take a sudden shift to wide-open, end-to-end hockey as the teams traded not so much scoring chances but near-chances, and just general risk-taking that indicated each team was trying to force a lead. During one such sequence, Mark Katic pinched on a not-quite 50/50 puck at the point, and the Pens got a staggered rush the other way, on which Mark Rupp made like a hockey player and nicely set up Mark Letestube for the easy tap-in.
The Islanders were scrambling for the tying goal, with Moulson chucking a backhanded rebound at the gaping net and John Tavares -- who'd been boxed into the crease behind Fleury -- trying to get out of the way. Tavares didn't impede Fleury in any way, and jumped into the net to avoid both the puck and other players, but somehow the official on duty waived the goal immediately.
In OT Tyler Kennedy had an uncontested chance all alone in front of Montoya, tried to deke backhand and ... missed. I don't know how he did it, or how it happened, but it didn't go in.
To twist the knife all the more, Mark Katic was set up in the slot for a slapper that beat Marc-Andre Fleury...right after the clock in OT hit 0:00. It would've been Katic's first NHL goal, and you could tell by his reaction that for a second he thought he'd done it. But instead we headed to the anticlimactic skill drill.
- For shootout fans, the Islanders had to dig into the well without their normal go-to guys. One frequent shooter who did appear was P.A. Parenteau though, who rather than do his usual rush in from the left side, decided to attack straight away. His intent was to fake the backhand deke and just shoot forehand over Fleury, and Fleury bit for the first part but kept his glove there to grab the shot.
- More shootout: Blake Comeau got his first opportunity of the season, had Fleury beat after Fleury faked a poke-check, but Comeau's shot sailed just over the crossbar. ... John Tavares, meanwhile, continued to look almost lost in the shootout, the puck never settling for him and his movements never posing much mystery for Fleury.
- Quietly, Comeau now has 24 goals on the year -- fourth on the team and not bad at all for a guy who gets second/third line opportunities and rarely a featured powerplay role. We have our fun with our pet peeves and his lapses, but can anyone seriously want to move him? He's 25 and has upped his point total by about 10 each year.
The latest ATO: Jamie Doornbosch only had 8 shifts and 5:21 of TOI and was -1 -- but hey, that was only two shifts and one minute less than Zenon Konopka. Of course, Konopka's limited time was in part thanks to the officials' odd need to give everyone who fought an extra 10 minute misconduct, and in Konopka's case, an unwarranted instigator penalty too. Regardless, surely it was a thrill for Doornbosch, who didn't look nervous at all.
- Speaking of that skeleton D: Really nice game for Hamonic, pretty good game for Ty Wishart. The Isles were lethargic as a team for the first 20+ minutes (and penalties didn't help), but I don't know how this D does it, as injury-battered as they are.
- Speaking of officiating: From Konopka's bad instigator to the decision to give Trevor Gillies and Eric Godard 10-minute misconducts without passing go, to four minutes on Brooks Orpik (two for complaining too much) and the archaic in the crease call to waive off the first tying goal, it was another curious night from the officials. Colin Campbell was in the crowd.
- Speaking of fights though, Gillies pretty much destroyed Godard [video below]. This was the one fight I expected, per the ol' ambiguous "hockey code" to make Gillies atone for last game. Clearly Gillies expected it, too, as he varied his fighting moves and took Godard by surpise with some early jabs and several changes of hand. It's not reading too much to say Godard was relieved when that one was over.
- FIG Winner: RIckfansince76 got his first FIG win of the season for picking Comeau and getting one assist (Joensuu's) correct.
Gillies vs. Godard
Courtesy of the always instant HockeyFights.com
Not related but still fun: Carolina won again to take over the 8th seed, so the Rangers are still looking at a potential world of hurt. Tee hee. The Rangers face the Devils tomorrow at 12:30 and have to do something or else.
At the Game: What'd you see?
Well, lots of you were there -- how was it? Let's hear some stories. The crowd sounded great -- "Ha-ley" and "Colie Sucks" chants were audible -- but I want to hear more testimonials.
P.S. If you're reading this right now (10:30 EDT), WHRU is still airing a bunch of post-game audio.