No one was a minus except for the Blake Comeau - Josh Bailey - Jeremy Colliton line (more on them later). Kevin Poulin made key saves early, allowing the Isles to build a lead. Travis Hamonic notched his first NHL goal on a firm, low shot from the point. And Kyle Okposo got his first two goals of the season (one the eventual game-winner), as he continued to fly with Michael Grabner and Frans Nielsen.
Not a bad way to come out of the break.
On the whole, the Thrashers did not prove the best of opponents, disappointing their home fans with a tepid effort and officially continuing their pre-All-Star slump. Even the Thrashers' lone goal came from ex-Isle Freddy Meyer. While the Isles conceded the first goal for the 12th time in 13 games, Hamonic's goal early in the second tied it, and a great five-minute flurry at the end of that frame gave the Isles a lead and an insurance goal they'd have no problem protecting.
Notes from the Winner's Circle
- Probably the only "blemish" was the play of the third line, which still needs sorting out, or at least more time while the top two lines are running hot. But the minus-1 ascribed to Comeau and Bailey wasn't a terribly meaningful one, as Meyer's goal was a fluke carom from his foot and Hamonic's blade from behind the net. Bailey had zero shots, Comeau had two, Colliton one. (The scoresheet also has Comeau having four attempts blocked, while Bailey had two.)
- Capuano's shake-up answer for that line was to drop Rob Schremp to the fourth line while elevating Colliton. Zenon Konopka took the faceoffs, but Schremp generally toiled in the center's lane in both zones (when they made it to the offensive zone). I can't say either combo looked any worse than their previous incarnations -- they might have even looked better -- but it's clear the Islanders have two threatening lines now and two lines that are still keeping Capuano probing.
- Overall, Capuano generally rolled four lines -- TOI was still staggered, but the 4th liners each got just short of 12 minutes. That's a luxury to some extent afforded by having the lead, and one that's probably important since tomorrow is another back-to-back in Pittsburgh.
- Kyle Okposo. Kyle Okposo! He looked pretty great, even before the two goals. You can see him slowly getting it back each game. Tonight's goals came on a rebound created by John Tavares and Michael Grabner (nothing special) and a great, speedy 2-on-1 in which Okposo smoothly converted an outstanding feed from Grabner. Okposo had the wheels going. Almost crazy to see someone keep up with Grabner on a 2-on-1.
- P.A. Parenteau's goal, the third, was the dagger. Just 23 seconds after Okposo's first goal, the Isles picked up one of those gimme delay of game penalties. One minute after that KO goal, PAP moved in from his post on the half-boards, used some jazz hands to pull the puck back and forth, then whip a shot through a screen and inside the near post next to Ondrej Pavelec. The Islanders continued to pour it on for the period's final minutes, and the game didn't seem a bit in doubt by the second intermission.
- Otherwise not a noisy night for the top line, although they set up Matt Moulson multiple times, but Atlanta was pretty good at blanketing him in front of the net.
Fun stat-i-ness of the night: The Isles outshot Atlanta 31-25 at even strength (33-26 overall), but the only three Thrashers with ugly Corsi's were ex-Isles Meyer (-13) and Brent Sopel (-11), and Rich Peverley (-13). On the Isles' side, only Konopka (-12) and Schremp (-13) were in that territory.
- Cheers to Kevin Poulin for his third NHL win, sporting a .929 save percentage through eight games.
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FIG Winner: In an unprecedented display of shamanship, vrwc was our FIG (First Islanders Goal pick) winner for the second game in a row. He'll be taking your bets for Vegas at the end of this month.
Penguins were at the Garden tonight (game went to a shootout, so someone won the coin flip). Isles will meet them in Pittsburgh tomorrow night, where we'll do this thing again.