Blue Jackets 7, Islanders 3: Isles Finish 27th Overall, Hunwick Walks On

Sadly familiar sight in March and April.

Let us compare for a moment the first five games of Al Montoya's NHL career with what might be his last five NHL games for quite a while:

2009 first 5 GP: 3-1-0 record, 9 goals against - 111 saves on 120 shots (.925).
2012 final 5 GP: 1-4-0 record, 24 goals against - 137 saves on 161 shots (.851)

GS | ES | H2H | Shifts | Corsi | Zones | Recaps: NHL | Isles | SBN

I am loathe to rip a goalie when his team lost by four to the 30th-place team on the final game of the season, but my goodness. Been waiting for one sign of Good Al in these final weeks, but none emerged.

Granted, this was a ridiculously wide-open 7-3 game of meaninglessness, the shots 21-15 for the Isles in the second period alone. Problem was the Blue Jackets scored four goals on their 15 shots in that period while the Islanders put just two past Steve Mason on their 21.

So we're done then: Isles finish the season 34-37-11 for 79 points. 27th overall. Fourth slot in April 10th's NHL draft lottery.

By my count at most two of the total seven goals allowed were unstoppable (one of them a James Wisniewski one-timer blast on a 5-on-3 powerplay). It got crazy, or crazier after 5-2 in the second period, and the Isles' game fairly fell apart to follow the goalie's lead.

Game Highlights

Milestone Watch

  • John Tavares did not get his 82nd point, falling short of a 1.0 point per game rate. But he had eight of the Isles' 38 shots on goal, so it wasn't for a lack of trying. (Honestly, all four lines pushed well in the offense tonight, as did Matt Donovan with a few more interesting presses.)
  • Frans Nielsen got his 30th assist of the season.
  • Mark Streit got his 40th assist of the season.
  • Michael Grabner scored his 20th goal of the season, to make it 7-3 late in the game.
  • Kyle Okposo scored his 24th -- not a round number in our tradition, but extending a career high and proving that yes, sometimes "Okposto" can hit the post and have the puck still go in the goal.
  • Columbus tossed diminutive Shawn Hunwick in for the final 2:33 to give the tryout kid a fun jolt. He didn't face a shot though (raising the question: Why not put him in a little earlier?). Alas, John Grahame did not see any action.
  • There were fights 'n stuff with Micheal Haley and Matt Martin and their CBJ counterparts, but none were memorable in any way. Haley did manage to make himself fourth on the team for most PIM with 57, four ahead of Steve Staios.
  • The Islanders gave up seven goals for the first time all season. I feel like our end-of-season review of goals against will have to put an asterisk next to games Montoya played down the stretch.

Difftank_medium

a KQ and ICanSeeForIslesAndIsles joint

What an ugly finish. I feel bad for Montoya, but his play to finish out the season after Evgeni Nabokov got hurt has been atrocious, allowing three or more goals in five of his eight starts. For a guy that finished last season strong (.921 in 20 games) and started off this season well, to see his season save percentage fall well below .900 is jaw-dropping.

Not to distract from an ugly loss or pile on Montoya, but this was all fairly meaningless but Montoya is one of the few guys, thanks to his injury layoff, who had something on the line in these final weeks. He finished last year as a feel-good story; he finishes this year as an enigma.

Meanwhile, we'll see you for Tuesday's draft lottery as well as season report cards and monitoring the Bridgeport playoff push. On that note, the Sound Tigers lost tonight and took some injury hits:

So after Ullstrom and Landry go down and DiBenedetto gets late instigator, could be good thing they get 2F and a D back from the NHL

Well, they'll get that. Also: Brock Nelson debuted tonight and played some at center.

On to the kids, and to the report cards.

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