(Okay, the "Switzerland Declares War" part was a fib. But the rest of this evening feels just as unlikely. Still, relax: Your stolen assets are as safe as the day you opened your Swiss bank account. Mark Streit is safe, too.)
In the end, there was no winless December. There was no franchise-record losing streak. There was no more life without The Franchise. The Islanders stopped their losing streak at 10 and scored 4 goals for just the second time since Nov. 29, the last time they won, over the Senators (The losing streak included the 5-4 OT loss to Washington).
Somewhat stunningly, Rick DiPietro was back in net after a two-month absence. (I mean, we knew he was due, but this DiPietro injury saga -- dating all the way back to the summer or to last year's All-Star game, depending on how you backdate your options -- had embodied the "soap opera" metaphor.)
Game Summary | Event Summary | nhl.com Recap
DiPietro looked good on saves, but a little awkward getting up. I'm going to take a leap of faith and tell myself that's not because of hip or knee weakness. Particularly when rusty, DiPietro's always been a bit swimmer-like when play gets really chaotic.
Vesa Toskala did Kyle Okposo a massive, Vesa-sized favor by directing Okposo's wide-angle misshot back into the goal with his waffle. (Yeah, no waffle holes, but it's still a waffle to me.) This was the kind of gift Maple Leafs opponents eagerly await from Leafs goaltending this year. [Check Leafs fan misery at Pension Plan Puppets.] It's like knowing Santa's coming. And Okposo needed Santa to get him out of a scoring drought. Toskala may have been throwing one of those collegial "crazy goalie" bones to DiPietro, since it allowed DP an assist on the goal.
Josh Bailey did Bill Guerin a smaller, rookie-sized favor by putting a shot on that Guerin could deflect for goal #399. Never mind it would have been Bailey's long overdue 1st NHL goal -- the top bunk on the train always goes to the veterans. "Maybe next time, kid." In theatric style, Guerin banged home #400 from approximately 5 feet from the goal line (+/- 2 feet). That's the kind of milestone goal power forwards score. Congratulations, captain McNulty!
Notes and Errata
It's nice that Tim Jackman has embraced the role of enforcer whenever Mitchell Fritz isn't in the lineup for his 2:00 of ice time. Jackman's more useful than that, but somebody's gotta do it. Fighting man-beast Andre Deveaux ("Whip it. In-to-shape. Go forward...") ain't my idea of a party, but Jackman was game.
... The Leafs' Rogers We Own Stuff Sportsnet announcers pronounced Freddy Meyer IV's name as if it was Jamal Mayers' but without the 's'. Curious.
... Andy Hilbert's injury was stomach-turning. When a guy goes down to block a shot, takes it off the foot, and then stays down like he's been shot, that's not good. His body language looked like an anthropomorphic horse that knows it needs to be put down. "I'm done. Make it quick." Hilbert gamely skated to the bench, but ... yikes. Broken foot.
... Poor Leaf Lee Stempniak. In my book, he was overvalued by both St. Louis and Toronto, if that makes sense, so he may never live up to expectations or contract. A month after the trade, he's gotten into Ron Wilson's doghouse. But he felt shame, scored a goal, and maybe he go free before play stop and start up again.
... Mike Sillinger and Bruno Gervais were back in the lineup, continuing the tradition of at least one injury replacement (Doug Weight out, Ryan Walter and Joe Callahan back to Bridgeport) in practically every game this season.
The Last Word
With the win -- hallelujah! -- the Islanders have a grand 25 points, still good for only 30th place, two points behind the Lightning. But it was a win. It feels sooooo goooood.