Two points is two points, but man: Three times the Islanders built a three-goal lead on the Thrashers, and three times they didn't get the next goal. The final time, Atlanta climbed all the way back with an Ilya Kovalchuk third-period powerplay goal that felt inevitable by that point.
It's never a dull night with these two teams.
Fun with Numbers, Dangers Of
I've been linking to the Corsi figure for each game recently, and one thing you'll see regularly is that Andy Sutton and Jack Hillen have been the biggest negatives in that column on recent nights. (Negative Corsi = more shots directed at your net (including misses/blocks) than at the other guys' net during your EV shifts.) That's reflective of a few things, one of which is they've been playing against the other team's top line, as they did tonight.
Difference is, tonight they got lit up by the Thrashers' Russian guns not in shots (+5 and +6 Corsi, respectively) but in goals (three EV goals, plus the PP one). Part of that may be that they're not the shut down pairing Scott Gordon is currently deploying them to be. The other part may be that Kovalchuk/Antropov/Afinogenov is a really freaking good line when it wants to be.
Momentum Blow of the Night
There were many when you blow a three-goal lead at home, but: Call it lack of forecheck to start the period, call it lack of backside pressure to help the D, call it lack of Andy Sutton mobility to back in so far and give Maxim Afinogenov such a prime chance from the slot: Whatever you call it, building a three-goal first-period lead only to let the opposition get one back 50 seconds into the second is not cool, man.
Video Highlights (amusingly condensed, given the flood of goals)
- Matt Moulson scored from a spot where few Islanders regularly tread: On top of the crease, the "dirty" area. Jon Sim goes there and sometimes finds an acorn. Moulson goes there and also has a shot that can convert from further out. Nice to see Moulson, who's in a dry spell, get one from being where he needs to be.
- What, exactly was The Moose doing on the Richard Park goal? Goalies really shouldn't end up two feet to the right of their crease on plays that start innocently along the boards.
- Brendan Witt feathering a pass to Trent Hunter for the goal: One of the few times in the last month where a defenseman's pinch created the desired result, and it came from Witt of all people.
Frans Nielsen's backhand deke in the shootout: As automatic as anywhere you can get in the NHL (even more than the Jeff Tambellini wrister, which was also absolutely sick tonight). But it's not just that the Frans move itself fools goalies, it's the fact he can get a backhand shot up so high and so close to the inside of the post. That's just hard to defend, period.
- I'll get my cheap Jon Sim rip in here: When Josh Bailey is making a fool-two-guys pass like that, even snakebit Jon Sim is going to bury it from the slot. But seriously, sweet pass, sweet Sim conversion.
- Standings: With the "win," the Islanders leap Philadelphia and actually climb into a three-way tie with Atlanta and Tampa Bay for ninth place -- one point behind the Rangers, who lost in OT to Carolina. Then again, two games in hand for each of those teams is a healthy chunk in the shootout-inflated NHL.
Thanks to everybody who chimed in the game thread. It's true for every night, but particularly when I miss a game live, it's fun coming back to read how everybody saw the game. One chuckler, from quin8722 after (I believe) Jon Sim scored:
I was going to complain that they looked disorganized because of the line juggling…that’s why I’m not Scott Gordon
And now my sprockets we must dance. Wait, no: Now fellow Isles fans, we have a breather. The second game of 2010 is Wednesday in Colorado, the start of a three-game Western trip. In the interim, we can open this (hopefully much better) decade by looking back, a few more times, at the best of the one just ended.