A little too much of this sort of thing at the end. - Marianne Helm
The New York Islanders had ten good minutes and a two-goal lead... but unfortunately there were still ten minutes to play after that.
Yes sir, yes sir, three points full.
The Islanders seem to be making a habit of getting off to a slow start in games. Tonight was more of the same, as penalties (some of them possibly even deserved) left the club back on their heels, even after David Ullström had given them a 1-0 lead.
From that point, the Winnipeg Jets got every shot in the period until one went in - Alexei Ponikarovsky tied it - and though the Isles scraped a tie out of the period, the sense was that the Isles had been lucky up until then. The luck ended when Bryan Little finished a pretty passing play across the paint against a helpless Evgeni Nabokov.
Nabokov was the best player on the ice for the Isles during those forty minutes; the next ten belonged Mr. John Tavares: a goal after being sprung by a nifty chip pass from Kyle Okposo, a primary assist when Matt Moulson tipped his point shot, and a secondary assist on the power play.
The go-ahead goal was particularly welcome, because the Isles maintained offensive pressure five-on-five: a smart pinch by Travis Hamonic held the puck near the hashes along the near boards, and Tavares picked up the puck from there, walked the blue line, and kept his shot low, timed to arrive at the same time as Moulson came across the shooting lane.
Of course, there are some ways the Isles aren't quite ripe yet. The Jets tied it, taking advantage of one of those possible penalties to finally crack the perfect season record of the Islanders' PK unit. And while there's not much one can do about a Dustin Byfuglien screamer from the point, every Islander probably wants the tying goal back: Alexander Burmistrov corralled a puck that ought to have been cleared, dawdled around with it a while, and then snapped a riser that Nabokov let tick off the tip of his glove and into the top of the net.
The roller coaster finally came to a stop in disheartening fashion, after a breakdown in the offensive end. Evander Kane simply beat the Islanders' backcheckers into the zone, and got the rebound of Olli Jokinen's shot juuuuuust over the goal line to end it.
And to add insult to injury, MSG decided to punish the faithful by airing the well-scorned "SOMEBODY LEFT THE GATE OPEN" commerical afterward. Sure, kick us while we're down, broadcasters.
Soon. Not that we're in the biggest hurry this time, consarnit. (EDIT - OK, here they are. You have been warned.)
Those of you who read the Three Q's post with Arctic Ice Hockey's Trevor Maughan will see that pretty much everything he talked about came to pass tonight - 1, the Jets are not playing Mark Scheifele that much (he was scratched again tonight); 2, Olli Jokinen is more than just a gif machine, but a "breath of fresh air" for a young team that needed a veteran center who won draws and plays a two-way game; 3, the MTS Centre is a hell of a place for the home crowd - when the Jets went on that momentum-swinging power-play, the place was buzzing, and when Buff's shot rang the iron and went in, the place was bedlam, and stayed that way for the remainder of the game. Our thanks to Trevor for an insightful look at the distinguished opposition.
Speaking of exiled ex-Isles, the Jets gave the start to El Cubano Grande, Al Montoya, who looked frankly shaky when the Islanders really pushed, but didn't have to keep looking that way for long. Kane, who would eventually get the winner for Cubano, was asked about the huge collision that concussed Montoya early last season... and according to Kane, he smoothed it out with Montoya by essentially agreeing that it was all Milan Jurcina's fault. (Video there courtesy of your own Keith Quinn.)
Matty Ice's deflection was his 100th goal as an Islander.
Thomas Hickey made his Islanders debut, to many a huzzah, and played 12:22 tonight (including a smidge more than a minute on the PK). He took three shots on goal, and looked as smart as advertised moving the puck and making decisions. Alas, he was also caught up ice when Keith Aucoin's misfeed led to the deflection to the counterattack to the game-deciding goal.