In an entertaining, exacerbating, incredible game that is not exactly the feeling typically evoked by "Isles in Newark," the New York Islanders outlasted the New Jersey Devils, 5-4, thanks to a Brad Boyes overtime goal, some continued excellent special teams play, and just enough game-saving stops by Evgeni Nabokov.
Among those in Beast Mode: John Tavares, Michael Grabner, Casey Cizikas and dare I say a mix of penalty killers that included Marty Reasoner as well as defensemen like Andrew MacDonald. All of the above and more made critical plays that made the OT win possible. Others were guilty of making it necessary.
The Islanders opened a 2-0 lead early in the second period, then lost it in just three and a half minutes. They opened two more one-goal leads through the rest of the game -- the first on a fantastic individual effort by John Tavares -- but soon lost those, too.
Critically, they continued to get secondary scoring, putting up four-plus goals yet again, with Keith Aucoin (who also won eight of his 10 faceoffs) and the tireless duo of David Ullstrom and Casey Cizikas creating two goals.
The Winner: Upon further review of the winning goal, Boyes not only took the final whack to put it in -- he started the play by lifting Martin Brodeur's stick and kicking the puck to Tavares. Nice work.
In winning a three-point game, the New York Islanders are now tied with the Devils for first place in the Atlantic. (The Devils have a game in hand. Oh, and it's de facto October in this young season.) Still. Fun opening month.
- Aucoin: Anyone still upset the Isles had the nerve to claim a 34-year-old AHLer off waivers?
- There were nine powerplays collectively in this game. Let's just say some of them were not quite warranted, and the officiating was consistently inconsistent in calls and non-calls. The final two calls were justified, however; with each threatening to tip this topsy-turvy game to its crazy conclusion.
- The Isles' too many men on the ice -- what, nine men is too many these days? -- was farcical, with Kyle Okposo losing the puck instead of getting it in deep, and the Devils calmly sending it back toward the Islanders bench, where it was met by a cloud of dumbfound Islanders.
- Somehow, heroically, the Isles killed that penalty off with a little help from everyone, including Evgeni Nabokov both when it was 5-on-4 and when it was 4-on-3 in OT. That set the stage for new signing Brian Strait's end-to-end-to-end rush, as he outhustled his man to retrieve the puck behind the Islanders goal, then rushed it all the way up ice behind the Devils net. Once there and engaged in a battle, Matt Moulson joined him and received a crosscheck from behind that earned the game-winning powerplay.
- The Islanders' "hands team" for the 4-on-3 looked exhausted but determined, and a missed pass along the boards turned in their favor as it lured Brodeur out of his net to retrieve it. Bad move. Boyes stripped him and kicked the puck to Tavares, who initiated a scramble where two Devils tried to defend the vacated net. Whack came to hack, with Tavares and Frans Nielsen both putting desperate shots (and a bonus kick by Nielsen) at the quasi-empty net before Boyes got it just across the line.
- Kyle Okposo continues to look like a guy who didn't play competitive games during the lockout. His decision-making and ideas aren't there, and his trademark hustle (when he's on his game) has been intermittent.
- There was a brief moment late in the second where Ullstrom replaced Okposo on the top line, but that ended at the start of the next period. Not sure we can read any "passenger" treatment into it.
- As we know, Michael Grabner is a scoring chance machine based on turnovers-turned-breakaways alone. Tonight he hit the post on one breakaway that should have also garnered a tripping penalty from Marek Zidlicky.
- It's not okay for Evgeni Nabokov to trip David Clarkson early. But it's apparently okay for Martin Brodeur to trip John Tavares late. Got it.
- (That's what I mean by the consistently inconsistent. I lost track of which calls were makeup calls for which bad calls and missed calls, so I'll just be happy each team had four judgment-based powerplays, with the Devils' extra one coming off the no-brainer too many men on the ice.)
- Tavares was maaaaaad after his non-call trip was followed by the too many men. Is it just me, or are you relieved that when he barks at the refs he looks angry and indignant, as opposed to a certain whiny superstar who has a reputation for fits?
- The too many men call came shortly after Jack Capuano left the bench after taking a puck to the face. Looked pretty brutal, but he's gonna be okay.
- Cizikas made some outstanding all-out plays at both ends of the ice, highlighted by his hustle to strip Clarkson of the puck on a breakaway.
- Eleven Islanders had points. Including Nabokov.
Nabokov on the win:
"We're realizing what it takes to win, and we have to keep doing it. We wont succeed taking shortcuts. "
That may be true, but the blown leads came in part from shortcuts and poor decisions (and poor line deployment with the fourth line and third pair being out right after an Islanders goal) that kept the Islanders hemmed in their own zone for lengthy stretches that ended in goals against.
In the end, shots were 35-32 for the Devils (23-19 at even strength), and the game was more balanced than it looked during those haywire stretches.
Still, weird, huh? The Isles and Devils met, made a three-point game of it, and held on to the top two spots in the division.
From the many, many gifs in the game thread (this one courtesy rck88):
Puck to the head?