7 goals. The last time the Islanders scored 7 goals in a game was nearly two years ago, when they topped the Sabres in overtime in Buffalo. To put it in perspective, the Islanders didn't score more than 5 goals in any game last season.
But while the offensive outburst was surprising, it was the circumstances in which they scored 6 of the goals that may have been the biggest shock in the Islanders 7-4 victory over the Maple Leafs.
Rust, Rust, and Some More Rust
To say the Islanders looked like a team that hadn't played in over 72 hours would have been an understatement. The team looked out of sorts in the first period and it only took a couple minutes for them to pay for it. David Ullstrom's weak clearing attempt was held in the Islanders zone by Cody Franson, who sent it over to Carl Gunnarsson for a slapshot and a Maple Leafs goal at the 2:12 mark.
The Islanders benefited from a bad break off a Toronto faceoff win, and Matt Moulson tied the game up at 1. But in typical Islanders fashion, they gave it right back to the Maple Leafs in just over a minute. A third Toronto goal followed soon after, and with 3 minutes and 31 seconds left in the first period the Islanders found themselves down two goals and down a man.
The Isles seemed to collect themselves during what turned out to be not one, but two penalty kills, including 25 seconds of a 2-man disadvantage, and closed out the 1st period with what became some huge momentum going into the 2nd.
The Comeback Begins
The Islanders took advantage of a rare Faceoff Violation call on Mikhail Grabovski. On the ensuing power play, Mark Streit finished off a beautiful passing play between John Tavares and Brad Boyes, and the Islanders found themselves within 1 goal at 3-2.
Unlike the 1st period (or Saturday's game vs. the Devils), instead of giving a goal back to their opponents, the Islanders lit the lamp for a second time in the period. Boyes was on the finishing end of a beautiful centering feed this time, from none other than Frans Nielsen, and the Islanders headed into the second intermission tied with Toronto 3-3.
It's All About How You Finish
If the Islanders had the better of the play in the 2nd, they outright dominated in the 3rd period. Boyes had yet another nice feed from the boards, finding Michael Grabner, who buried a nasty wrister to give the Islanders their first lead of the day.
After a questionable, at best, hit on John Tavares, Dion Phaneuf was hearing footsteps and turned the puck right over to Matt Moulson. Moulson wrinkled the twine for the second time in the game, essentially icing the game for the Isles.
A late goal by the Leafs and a sensational effort by Grabner to hit the empty net closed out the game's scoring. For one night at least, the Islanders showed that these may not be your slightly older brothers Islanders. Instead of wilting under the pressure of a 2 goal deficit, they dug down and scored 6 goals in the final two periods for a big road victory.
- Tonight's game was a total 4 line effort. It's hard to distinguish which line played better between the Top 2 lines, but kudos should be given to the 4th line. Not only did the 4th line see more ice time than the 3rd line did, but the line spent the majority of their TOI in the Toronto zone.
- Keith Aucoin was a pedestrian 7 for 12 on faceoffs. We'll let it slide. Teammates Marty Reasoner (9 for 13) and John Tavares (12 for 20) were more than willing to pick up the slack. Aucoin is still an incredible 74% on faceoffs this young season.
- Brad Boyes' 3 point night was well deserved. Boyes' play in the Islanders' first three games has been top notch, easing fans' minds that he is not a Brian Rolston repeat.
- Kudos to Jack Capuano for not pulling Evgeni Nabokov after the Maple Leafs scored their third goal only 12:48 into the game. It could have been easy for Cappy to make the change, but sticking with Nabokov turned out the right move, as he settled down and kept the puck out of the net over the next 45 minutes.
- Phaneuf's hit on Tavares was scary for about 5 seconds. Tavares did try ducking under the hit, but Phaneuf used his forearm to drive Tavares head-first into the boards. Tavares looked very shaken up, but got up quick enough to charge to the front of the net as Moulson was scoring.
Very little time to celebrate, as the Islanders are right back at it Friday, in Boston to face the Bruins.