There was a stretch in the latter half of the second period where the Islanders got chance after chance but could not buy a goal. Jonathan Quick was making acrobatic saves, and the Kings defense and forwards were diving and sprawling to block or get their sticks on rebounds. Justice would say the Isles at least deserved the equalizer to force the Kings to score at least two goals to win this one. But justice and the Colin Campbell NHL don't work well together.
We were speaking of Corsi after the third-period fumbling in Anaheim? Well tonight's ledger looks totally different, as the Islanders poured it on for the final half of the second period, and continued with pressure for lengthy chunks of the third. As a result, thought shots were even 26-26, Jeff Tambellini was the only Islander finishing with a minus in that department, largely because he only got two shifts after the first intermission (three only if you count his five-second trip from the box to the bench). The forced Scott Gordon-Tamby co-existence probably can't end soon enough.
Can't say Tambellini didn't get his chance though; he just has zero margin for error. He got a few more looks with Blake Comeau and John Tavares, but his boarding penalty -- essentially an in-close check from behind -- on Rob Scuderi probably sealed his fate on this night.
Game Video (In lieu of goals: Hits)
It's tough to know what to talk about in a hard-hitting, close-fought 1-0 final where there was lots of good play but few highway-robbery saves to highlight.
It was weird though: The Kings cycled really well in the first and early second, and that play produced the lone goal, by Brad Richardson. But then they went into some sort of shell, and I'm not sure it was by Terry Murray design (he called his timeout to try to direct them out of it). We complain when the Isles sit on a lead instead of attack, but of course that is an age-old problem that afflicts every team to varying degrees.
The positives: John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Comeau, Matt Moulson and Josh Bailey all put in nice work trying to mount the comeback. Comeau slipped it to Tavares in the waning seconds, and JT made his patent-pending backhand pass from behind the net to Okposo, who got a hard shot on from in tight but Quick not only held his arm in tight, he didn't allow a rebound. Game over.
But essentially, I feel like we're watching some valuable lessons and growing pains for the kids right now. They are showing the talent to make trouble for other teams, it just takes a lot of development and a lot of reps to get it down right.
Ice Time Chronicles: Tamby and Tim Jackman brought up the rear with 5:37 and 5:08, respectively. Mark Streit led with 26:40. Bruno had another night over 22 minutes. Dylan Reese logged 15:16, while Dustin Kohn got 8:55. I sure get the feeling Gordon prefers the former to the latter, and thus far I do, too. Interesting minor acquisition by Garth Snow there.
Oh, and also: Freddy Meyer DESTROYED Dustin Brown with a Sutton-like hit along the boards on the rush inside the blueline. A perennial depth defenseman and occasional healthy scratch this season, Freddy The Fourth keeps on making a case for his next contract, and it's fun to watch:
Playoff Talk Over Too, Surely
So the Western swing ends with 3 points out of 6, which is not really even ".500" or average, because this league averages more than two points awarded per game.
The "cost" to the Islanders? Well, Carolina beat Pittsburgh in OT, Atlanta won in regulation, Tampa Bay lost but even Toronto won. So the Islanders are idle until Wednesday at the Garden, and they're just 4 points above 29th place, while being six points and five teams from 8th in the East. The Rangers will desperately need that game Wednesday, as they have a chance on Sunday to damage the reeling Bruins while helping themselves.
If ever there was a time when it'd benefit the Isles to hand it to their rivals ... I kid, I kid: Of course it's every fan's right to keep hope alive until math says no, just as it's every fan's right to secretly dream of lottery luck to help the long-germ. But no matter where you fall, there is never an excuse for tanking for the Rangers.