While one emerging Islanders power forward was getting his playoff reps in for the Sound Tigers, another power forward of yore was playing the hero in Pittsburgh.
Here is ex-Islanders captain Bill Guerin's OT winner, which remarkably came on a 5-on-3. (My, how the NHL has changed!):
For this Islanders fan, the doorstep location and celebration was reminiscent of Guerin's OT winner he scored in his first month as captain, in 2007-08. Stakes were obviously a tad higher last night, but it was no small thrill when the new captain scored that one, as the Islanders were building a surprising top-8 season (pre-DiPietro injury) under Ted Nolan.
Credit Guerin for doing what Guerin does. That was his second goal -- and his physical presence in front of the net on the power play also helped the Penguins tie it late in the third, on a shot that deflected off Evgeni Malkin, who was right next to him. For someone who followed him as a Blue and as an Islander, I couldn't help feeling excited for him after seeing that joy on his face after potting the winner.
You know, the definition of "power forward" probably needs reassessing by a panel of experts at some conference in a warm climate somewhere. There was once a very essential fighting element to it, exemplified by a certain #9, but these days you don't have to fight to take up occupancy as a big scoring body in front of the net.
To the disappointment of some Islanders fans while he was here ("What kind of captain won't fight?" they'd say), Guerin very, very rarely fights anymore. Perhaps he feels he's paid his dues? Who knows.
And the young Islander I'm referring to, Kyle Okposo, has yet to fight and I don't expect ever will on a regular basis. But Okposo has that combination of hands, decent size, and a willingness to use his body to win the puck, protect the puck, and stay in the dirty areas while waiting for the puck to arrive. There is more to his game than finesse, and more to his game than "grind." Perhaps there's some other term between "sniper" and "power forward" that's slipped my mind, but for now that's what I'm calling him.
Anyway, Okposo had a quiet night in the Sound Tiger's 3-2 loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, with just one shot on his sheet; better luck for him tonight. The Sound Tigers fell behind 3-0 and climbed back -- with Jack Hillen apparently just missing a chance to tie -- but they ultimately fell short. Attendance at Nassau Coliseum was 4,927.
More on the Sound Tigers-Penguins game: