The Islanders had a sterling record this season when level after two periods: 13-4-1 going into today's matinee. After 40 minutes against the Boston Bruins, the Isles were again level, getting goals from Kyle Okposo (career-best 21st) and P.A. Parenteau (17th). They were also on the power play, with Shawn Thornton in the unfamiliar position of serving someone else's penalty - Marty Turco tripped Okposo driving wide on him with about a minute remaining in the second.
Sadly, that was as good as it got for the team in black.
Highlights and some thoughts follow after the jump.
For the first two periods, there were plenty of good things to go around. The FnBO line (or BON line, or whatever cleverness strikes your fancy) continued to create wonderful chances for the Islanders. The first Isles goal came when Frans Nielsen caught ex-Isle Brian Rolston flat-footed in the neutral ice to start a breakout, with the play finished by Okposo's wrister over Turco's glove. They also had a number of other shifts where they bottled the Bruins in their own end and forced them to work hard on defense.
This got the first line some space to finally find the scoresheet again. Hard work down low and another dirty feed from John Tavares created the second goal. Matt Moulson took Tavares' pass and slid it across to P.A. Parenteau crashing the net, and he tucked the puck past Turco to tie the game at two.
This unit would strike again in the third, getting the Isles back to within a goal with five minutes left. It was the last hurrah for the home side this night, however.
Micheal Haley was in for Casey CIzikas, scratched with the fearsome Islanders Upper Body, and tussled with Greg Campbell, risking eternal suspension from every activity remotely associated with hockey. Each got their shots in, but Haley's forced Campbell to cover up. Eventually Haley just pulled him down, to general applause all around.
Haley got 8:59, with 30 seconds of that on the penalty kill, and generally held his own.
It was a mixed bag for Nino Niederreiter, who had a number of good moments and was credited with five hits, but who would wind up minus-2. Boston's Tyler Seguin, a second-year player put back into this year's Calder Trophy race by Butch Goring, had a goal and two assists, all in the horrible, no-good, very-bad third period.
Wheels on the Scapewagon
The steering wheel of this afternoon's collapse was Al Montoya, who looked shaky at several moments during the game - cleanly beaten on at least two shots that hit posts, and lucky a third time when Seguin missed high on a two-on-one. And though he made some strong saves, particularly on a Patrice Bergeron breakaway, Montoya also gave up back-to-back daggers in the third to break the 2-2 tie: a goal through the five-hole when he was trying to go paddle-down on Brad Marchand, followed later by a harmless-looking Seguin shot that coasted over his glove as he went down. That last may have just nicked the glove of Travis Hamonic going for the block, but it's one that I'm sure Montoya feels like he should have stopped.
Rolston was exploited for the first two Isles goals, and gave up a third golden chance during the Boston power play, but Michael Grabner couldn't quite get the handle on the puck as he tried to pass across, and the play broke down.
This was a recurring theme for Grabner today. Several good feeds on the tape simply bounced away from him. This isn't a matter of his skating being affected any more... it was a rough night for the Gremlin.
Capuano's take on the game:
The Islanders have the Ottawa Senators, fresh off a shootout win in Philadelphia, in town tomorrow at 3:00 pm. Rick DiPietro will buy the first 5000 fans in attendance a hot dog and beverage, as per the Islanders' website. It's a fine gesture from a guy whose lengthy contract, and lengthier injury list, make him an easy target for media jabs. We do our share too, of course, but this is a classy response, and a reminder that, whatever happens, RDP is a true Islander and a credit to the organization. He handles himself very well indeed, all things considered.
The man of the hour may well be John Grahame, however. With Nabokov out and the Sound Tigers playing their third-in-three, no chance to see Kevin Poulin up to the Island. It looks like the Isles will use a sixth goalkeeper for the second straight season.
The playoffs have officially gone over the horizon for the Islanders this season. As Chris Botta snarked on Twitter, that means "One more week of celebrating individual "feats" and garbage time career highs of a club deep in last place.
#Isles #countryclub." That sounds a lot like the bitterness of a guy not welcome in that country club right now, and frankly that's a shame. The man is a good reporter. He stood up for the Islanders when few others in the media would, and Islanders Point Blank, under his stewardship, became an essential daily stop for fans to keep up with the doings of the franchise. Zinging them uselessly now is counterproductive. It's not like the Islanders should just quit four games early, should they? Why not push for Parenteau, Nielsen, and Grabner to net 20 goals? Tavares is one point off a point-per-game pace, a level only the elite few reach on a consistent basis in the NHL... it would be great to see him officially join those ranks. And no professional hockey player ever wants to be disgraced in a game. Let's enjoy these last games and see some good hockey.