Last night the Islanders were pushed to OT in a game they deserved to win. They outplayed the Senators just about the whole game. Tonight the Islanders were pushed to OT in a game they never deserved to have the lead in. Despite the 3-1 lead after the first, the Islanders had been outshot 17-9. Their Corsi was -20 and their Fenwick was -10 after the first. Frans Nielsen had 2 goals and the only assist on Josh Bailey's (almost SH) goal.
The Sabres battled their way back from 3-1, while Al Montoya seemed to struggle in net and the defense had some bad lapses. After tying the game halfway through the 3rd, the Sabres looked like they were playing for OT. The Isles gained some momentum going into the extra period and really laid it on in OT. Montoya made an early clutch save in the period and Dylan Reese probably saved another goal before a Sabres too many men penalty gave the Isles a PP. The Isles pretty much controlled the game for the rest of OT and had some fantastic chances. Ryan Miller was clutch though and forced the shootout.
Miller made the save against P.A. Parenteau and challenged Frans, upsetting the timing of the Danish Backhand of Judgment. Hopefully not too many people were watching, because that was a textbook lesson in stopping Frans on the shootout. Montoya looked bad in the shootout giving up goals to both Sabres he faced.
Islanders Defense: Milan Jurcina was a last minute scratch, with Reese playing in place of him. Unfortunately Travis Hamonic took a puck to either the nose or eye. It angled just right to sneak under his visor. There is no report on his condition from the Islanders other than his leaving Coliseum and being in the hospital. Considering Hamonic is arguably the Islanders' best defenseman, there is plenty to worry about if he's out for any period of time.
[UPDATE: Official word is a broken nose for Hamonic. Isles expect a two-week absence]
Tonight though it made a bad situation even worse. Already looking tired in the 3rd period, the Islanders had to finish the game with 5 defenseman. If Jurcina isn't ready to go by Tuesday against the Flyers, they will have to call up someone from Bridgeport. After tonight's game, Bridgeport is off till Saturday the 11th. It will be interesting to see who gets the call-up.
Tired JT? Although John Tavares came close to notching himself another game winner, it looked like during some shifts that he might be tired. Cappy has really been leaning on him. In the last 6 games he's been between 20 and 25 minutes of ice time and tonight he played 26 minutes. He also didn't get a break since he was a part of the All Star game. With the Isles off till Tuesday, hopefully he can get a bit of a break.
Rusty Montoya: It's odd to say that a goalie had a bad game when he was named 3rd star with a .919 SV%, but Montoya was leaving a lot of juicy rebounds. He also looked plain awful during the shootout. He still made a few clutch saves that preserved a point for the Isles. With the trade deadline coming up and the possibility of Evgeni Nabokov being traded the Islanders need Montoya to play like he did last season.
Playoffs, are you talking about Playoffs? Lots of scoreboard watching in the game thread as the Islanders already need a lot of help for an outside chance to sneak in. Not only did the 3 point game allow the Sabres to tie the Isles in points, but everyone else in the bubble won. On the bright side because it was an OTL and not a regulation loss, the dream is still alive for the Isles to reach .500 for the first time this last in the season since 08.
Ice Time: Not surprising that with Hamonic (18:26) going down, Andrew MacDonald played nearly 28 minutes tonight. MacDonald also led the team in shifts with 31. Tim Wallace and Jay Pandolfo were at the other end of the spectrum, both getting just around 9 minutes.
First Goal: Not sure when the last time the Islanders did it, but tonight they scored a goal on their first shot. Since they are leading the league by giving up a goal on the first shot 9 times, it was a nice change of pace.
If the Islanders are going to push for the playoffs, they need to win games like this even if they don't deserve it. Secondary scoring has been lacking all season, and tonight they got plenty of it. Letting the Sabres get 37 shots against Montoya is worrying and even more so when the Isles had 24 blocked shots on the night. Almost every game is a must win the rest of the way, and it only gets tougher with the Flyers coming to town.