It's difficult to retain any sense of sober analysis on nights like these, where you swear the Bettman Bonus Point was instituted to make less infuriating those nights when the officiating delivers 60+ minutes of incompetence.
You want to shout at the team for blowing a 3-0 lead. You want to shout at the refs for stopping at two goalie interference calls, calling Matt Martin for an instigator but allowing David Jones to instigate freely, putting the wrong man in the box in the first, and calling a 4-on-3 in OT because Al Montoya stepped to the top of his much-invaded crease.
And you want to shout at coach Jack Capuano for calling a timeout after the second Avalanche goal only to send ... Mike Mottau and Mark Eaton right back out there.
There were meaningful developments in this game, mostly by a host of forwards who made that 3-0 lead possible, as well as by Matt Martin for defending John Tavares when the Avs gameplan included running Montoya and JT and daring the officials to stop them.
But the end result is another massive opportunity lost: The Isles are on a 1-5-3 run. And the alternative in tonight's alternate universe, 2-5-2, would hardly get them out of the woods.
We called out the Zero Goal Club in the preview, and Josh Bailey took his name off the list. Nice powerplay tip off a Mark Streit shot to open scoring. He had one moment with a one-goal lead when he tried to get too precise and lost the puck in his own zone, but otherwise Bailey continued a slow path of revival.
Kyle Okposo is still a ZGC member, but he had the type of game that originally endeared him to Islanders fans: He used his body to win battles along the boards and in the center of the ice. More of that please.
Blake Comeau is a guy.
Al Montoya is who helped keep the game 3-0 for so long. Colorado is one of the rinks that inflates shot totals, so saying he stopped 47 saves is probably a stretch. But they probably didn't make up 17 shots. Montoya did well. The second goal he would like to have back, but it was a fluke from the toe of his pad trapping the puck and sliding it back into the net as he pulled out of his stretch. The third goal too, he missed the handle, although the deflection off Mottau's stick created the tricky changeup.
He's not free of his blame on his OT penalty, either: He was marking his crease -- which was invaded all night including in OT -- but the refs were watching and possibly looking for a call after his previous run-in with Gabriel Landeskog.
Late in the game Twitter was aflutter with rumors of an Evgeni Nabokov trade, to Columbus, and even tantalizingly for Fedor Tyutin, who's a good defensemen with an insane contract extension that begins in 2012-13. All reports of the deal -- which even made it on to the Isles broadcast after JIggs McDonald referenced an Arthur Staple retweet -- were retracted.
Which blown or missed call ticked me off more? Marty Reasoner getting absolutely leveled in the high slot with a lower back crosscheck, or Steve Staios getting called for a crosscheck that was innocent by comparison and was actually protecting Montoya? Jay Pandolfo being called for a hold that Matt Duchene initiated by clutching his arm and not letting go -- creating a 5-on-3 -- or the selective use of the instigator?
Don't know, and don't care after tonight. We'd not be having this discussion if the Islanders hadn't faded in the third, or if the Islanders had capitalized one of their chances to make it 4-0. The officiating stunk, but unfortunately that's part of hockey.
Players You Count On
Despite just one goal, Grabner's, Michael Grabner and John Tavares were creating chances all night, with five shots each. P.A. Parenteau and Frans Nielsen were also very good, even creating a goal which Brian Rolston finished well. Matt Martin continued his promising season and deserved the powerplay time he received.
Overall, I found the Islanders' passing much improved as they took what a porous Avalanche defense gave them. How to explain the third period collapse, I'm not sure. Parenteau refutes the age-old Mile High altitude concern (video below) and the Islanders did not so much appear to be in a third-period shell as in a steadily cascading series of mistakes and bad bounces. Another lesson for a still young team (despite the token veterans who are trotted out on Versus telecasts)? Poor play meets poor officiating?
Jack Capuano Post-Game: Refs "See What They Wanna See"
Cappy says overall good effort, but got themselves into penalty trouble and paid.
Bailey, Parenteau, Eaton Post-Game
PAP: Stopped playing our game in the third period. Altitude is no excuse and played no role in the collapse. Unacceptable, he said.
Vancouver's next, Sunday. Matt "Coulson's" turn to shine.