Don't call it a winning streak. It's back-to-back wins. And it's a nice way for the Islanders to end the week before taking off on a four-game road trip through some inhospitable locales.
Bruins back-up goalie Chad "Treinta Cinco" Johnson.scoring his first goal as an Islander and showing those flashes of brilliance that Garth Snow was trading for throughout a good team performance against a tough opponent. Although their 34 shots were much less than the 50 they hit in Ottawa on Friday, the Islanders had possession and put long stretches of pressure on
Playing their own back-up, the Islanders clogged the shooting lanes in front of Kevin Poulin, who made several quick pad saves when he had to. The Bruins' lone goal resulted from a bad deflection off his own teammate and with a line's worth of guys landing on him. But aside from that single blemish, Poulin (26 saves) came up huge for a team that may have forgotten what that feels like.
First Period: Shhhh... keep it down, man.
The opening period ended scoreless and with the Islanders ahead on shots 9-6. They maintained possession through most of it, although the best scoring chance belonged to the Bruins. A goalmouth scramble found Poulin out of position to the right of the crease. Matt Donovan's stick disrupted Boston's Reilly Smith, who whiffed on the puck with an open net staring right at him.
The Islanders had a few chances on Johnson, the most dangerous of which was a slapshot by Andrew MacDonald that went wide of the net, took a 75 degree carom off the boards and flew right back towards Johnson. Had he had his pads closed, the puck might have bounced off his calves and into the net. Instead, it shot out into the slot through the rarely-seen "Reverse Five Hole."
Second Period: ALL TEH GOLES!!
Things opened up considerably in the second, starting with the Islanders first goal. Vanek's backhand hack towards the net bounced up on Johnson and was knocked out of the air by John Tavares. Not pretty, but it switched the game's tenor out of neutral.
The period featured about approximately six dozen odd man rushes, including Tavares and Okposo soon after the first goal, a breakaway just out of Vanek's reach a minute later and, at the other end, a partial Brad Marchand breakaway that was stopped by Poulin. A quick touch pass from Pierre-Marc Bouchard sprung Thomas Hickey and Josh Bailey for another 2-on-1, and Hickey shot wide trying to paint the top corner.
MacDonald made it 2-0 Islanders with a point shot through a light screen.
With Brock Nelson sitting for the game's first penalty, the Islanders had yet another breakaway, courtesy of, who else, Michael Grabner. Grabner held on too long, never got a shot off, and the Bruins scored their first goal the next time down the ice. A shot by Dougie Doug Hamilton bounced off Frans Nielsen and slid in as no less than four players fell on Poulin.
It wasn't 2-1 for long as Vanek scored his first as an Islander on a 2-on-1 break with Okposo. A soft pass right to his stick teed Vanek up for a straight forward wrist shot past Johnson. And the 800-pound gorilla was escorted out of the building after hanging around for the last week.
The Islanders got their first power play at the end of the period, with Hamilton off for holding. An Okposo shot with milliseconds left was the only real threat across the periods.
Third Period: Not Holding On
Jack Capuano has talked about the Islanders' strategy of pushing play even when they have the lead and not "holding on." They certainly did tonight, with 12 shots in the third for both teams and no change in the score.
The Bruins best chance came during a double minor to unlikely suspect John Tavares. After letting nearly everything go for over two periods, the refs called Tavares on the lightest of hooks on Brad Marchand. Tavares let the refs know that he didn't agree with their suddenly watchful eyes and picked up an extra two minutes. The kill was a wild one, with Poulin making some good saves and the puck bouncing off more than one Bruin's stick. Another Grabner breakaway killed more time, but he couldn't pot a fourth goal.
The Bruins had a few chances with Johnson pulled, but the Islanders did a good job of staying in the lanes and keeping the pucks from Poulin. MacDonald sent a shot from deep in the Islanders' zone that didn't miss the net by much and Grabner tried to set up Regin for empty netter but Regin couldn't control it.
Not a dominating performance but a solid one, especially considering the back-to-back nights and the opponent.
- Vanek earned his 500th career point and Okposo earned his 200th.
- Fancy Stats Noob Corner: If I'm wrong please correct me, but Matt Carkner's corsi was 67%, Regin's was 72%, Cal Clutterbuck's was 66.7% and Grabner's was 68.8%. Um, those are damn good, right?
- On the flipside, the fourth line of Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Brock Nelson seemed to get killed in the corsi department. Not sure if it's because they're missing Colin McDonald. I'm pretty sure they weren't good with him, either.
- In case you can't tell from the recap, I also don't know jack about goalies. But it seems as if a big difference between Poulin and Evgeni Nabokov (besides their birthdays), is that Poulin is quicker at getting back into position. He had a slight case of the scrambles and certainly had his share of lucky bounces, but this was easily Poulin's best performance in a long time. I'm not alone in hoping we see some more of these.
- No disrespect to the Bruins - who are unarguably a strata above the Islanders - but it was tough to tell at times which team had played last night in Canada. The Islanders got to pucks faster, had a ton of odd man rushes, put on pressure for more time and generally had more jump than Boston. But hey, if the Bruins (and maybe the Senators on Friday) were maybe looking past the Islanders a little bit, I'll take it.
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