I didn't see the good chunk of this game live -- just the part where Dwayne Roloson shut the door and saved the Islanders from squandering a good two periods via a rather apathetic third.
But that's what good goalies do for you. And everything before my tuning in for an apparent jinx attempt sounded good: Solid 5-on-5 play, outshooting the Leafs 14-8 before they let the Maple Leafs surge at the end of the second and continue that throughout the third.
The goals, 90 seconds apart: Holy cow, what a great bad-angle rifle shot by Trent Hunter. Quite pleasing also, the Blake Comeau drive -- yes, he drove to the inside! His CPU is a learning computer! -- to the Leafs net before setting up John Tavares for the easy tap-in. (Loved Francois Beauchemin gliding and allowing Tavares a free ride there. Ace.) And cheers to Comeau again, for doing the smart play on the empty-net goal: assuring either an easy empty-net or a Leafs penalty (culprit: Beauchemin again) that would equate to the same.
Tavares was curiously awarded the "first star" for that low-labor tap-in, the game-winner. But if you're into the Corsi (a plus-minus measure of shots directed at either net during a given player's shifts), then Tavares, Matt Moulson and Comeau had the raw end of their shifts, with some ugly negative figures. (Not that I'm going to let that get in the way of the greater importance of, you know, scoring goals.) For the game, only Jeff Finger/Luke Schenn and Andy Sutton/Jack Hillen figured as poorly. For the latter, I suspect part of that was due to their presence during the game's waning moments.
Nonetheless, small victory appreciated: The Isles bent, but didn't break. They kept a pedestrian team from blitzing them like the Leafs did in the previous two meetings. They kept the Leafs' best weapon -- a sluggish Phil Kessel -- off the scoresheet, minus-2, with just three shots on goal and another four blocked. For an up-and-down season, I will accept this as a small holiday gesture, oh yes I will.
Highlights and mega Roloson saves video posted after the jump. Have an awesome, safe hockey holiday.
P.S. Trent Hunter, your release is made of gold, and I apologize -- again -- for ever doubting that it was the best on the team.