This one was all about the Stars. (Did I say, "Fear Brunnstrom"? Silly rabbit, I meant Mike Ribeiro. That's the ticket.) Needing to bounce back after a 5-0 beating the previous night in New Jersey, the Stars resisted an early Islanders surge, converted their first powerplay, and took off from there. The 5-3 final was flattering, as it was only briefly that close.
The Islanders created some nice chances -- Richard Park was robbed early, Kyle Okposo whistled a shot wide, and there were glimpses of the pressure Gordon's system might create -- but that Stars powerplay, a fast counterattack, and an uncalled high stick added up to 3-0 Stars after the first. The three posts on one play was unlucky; the knee injury to Brendan Witt absolutely cruel.
Pluses and Minuses after the jump...
- Not many, but Mark Streit completed a promising powerplay sequence for the goal, filling the main role for which he was acquired. Good to see John Sim open his account, too.
- In his first game of the season, Chris Campoli made some nifty plays and looked healthy.
- Sean Bergenheim had moments on his line with Weight and Guerin. Really reaching here, but fellow U.S. World Cup '96 Graybeard Keith Tkachuk is off to a strong start this year -- and it's in part due to playing with T.J. Oshie, a spunky youngster with grit and skill not unlike Bergenheim.
- Starts with the small crowd. Reportedly around 10,000.
- Gets worse with the knee, er, "body" injury to Brendan Witt.
- Surgically repaired Rick DiPietro, the object of much apprehensive observation, was just average.
- The Stars executed their powerplay with an unmerciful scalpel.
- On the counterattack, Thomas Pock left Brendan Morrow unimpeded for the Stars second goal. There were some major defensive/PK holes, perhaps created by assignment confusion/indecision within the Gordon system.
Bottom line: With new coach, system and personnel, the Islanders have growing pains right now. Last night I got the feeling they don't yet have the cohesion to mount a strong comeback effort in situations like tonight's first period.