The chaotic comeback and goal explosion of Monday night's 7-3 victory over the Dallas Stars briefly obscured some alarming news for the New York Islanders: Evgeni Nabokov, who left the game injured in the first period, was placed on injured reserve before the night was over.
Anders Nilsson was recalled from AHL Bridgeport on an emergency basis.
This is the second stint on IR this season, and his injury while pushing for a save appeared to be on the same right side as his earlier injury.
Goaltending, as many anticipated, has been a weakness for the Islanders in 2013-14. Though Nabokov's stats are again in the bottom third of the NHL, they are still quite a bit better than either alternative. Kevin Poulin, who relieved Nabokov Monday and saved 13 of 15 shots, and Nilsson, have combined for 23 NHL games this season with both carrying save percentages below .900.
Nabokov's stands at .905, 34th among goalies with 15 or more games played thus far. (Ironically, arch rival and usual Rangers talisman Henrik Lundqvist's stands at just .906.)
Anyway, this will be an interesting development for the Islanders. "Is it the goaltending? Or is it the defense?" is a chicken-or-egg debate in hockey, and the Isles are no different. They are without Lubomir Visnovsky, who was key to their success last season, and some of their toughest moments this season have been characterized by defensive mistakes, sometimes by rookie blueliners.
But their recent uptick in play coincided both with a renewed defensive effort and Nabokov's return to the lineup and in good form -- to say nothing of the emergence of Calvin de Haan.
Now the Isles head on a six-game trip that will not have Nabokov for a minimum of five games. Do the young goalies step up and help the Isles survive perhaps their last make-or-break stretch of the season? Or do their sub-.900 struggles continue, prompting the Isles to look elsewhere for the crease's present and, as 38-year-old Nabokov's injury foretells, the future?
- New York Islanders 7, Dallas Stars 3: John Tavares hat trick, Ryan Strome's first NHL goal, Nabokov injured
- A Look Into a Night of Islanders Shift Management
- Zeitgeist: Islanders fans hold closed door meeting after loss to Hurricanes
- Islanders News: D bits from Lubomir Visnovsky to Ville Pokka
- New York Islanders Prospect Ville Pokka Key to Finland's WJC Gold Medal