Well isn't that hockey for you? The Islanders get outplayed for the first 20 minutes, and enter the first intermission up 1-0. They generally outplay the Flyers in the second ... and enter the second intermission down 2-1. Then when all seems lost after the Flyers open the third with an insurance goal, Matt Martin -- Matt Martin!? -- gets two third-period goals to send it to OT. The tying goal was a thing of poise, collecting an airborne puck that Travis Hamonic had kept in, Martin setting it down with his glove and pivoting before banging it past Sergei Bobrovsky from close range.
Overtime was one of those familiar exhausting 4-on-4 affairs, with chances popping up on both sides as the teams alternately played it safe and took risks that led to odd-man rushes. (Speaking of poise, the winner required that from each of Matt Carle, who passed to Ville Leino, who could have shot over a sprawled Al Montoya but instead passed to Andrej Meszaros, who beautifully placed the winner just inside the far post.
It was a crushing end after the late comeback and another strong Montoya performance, but I can't deny it made for a very entertaining night of hockey.
Seriously, I was pretty pessimistic going into this one -- and the first period, Frans Nielsen's sniper shot aside, did little to change my mind -- but it ended up being a much better performance than I expected. The Islanders relied on Montoya for several outstanding saves, but they also forced their share from Bobrovsky, especially during a second period when the Flyers had fits trying to clear the puck from their zone.
- The OT goal: Nielsen and Michael Grabner got caught on a failed push in the Flyers' zone, but the winner actually resulted from them overcompensating on the backcheck. They caught up with the Flyers' patient rush...resulting in all four Islanders down low by Montoya, as Meszaros had time to pick his spot.
- I pump his tires enough so shouldn't do that here, but Nielsen's end to end rush past three Flyers, finished by his bad-angle shot to the far post, was a beauty.
- To be honest, both Bruno Gervais and Montoya were undressed on James van Riemsdyk's goal that made it 2-1.
- Micheal Haley's backhand pass from behind the net on Martin's first goal was nearly Tavares-like. Great play by him. (His big check of Matt Carle to buy the room for that pass...well that wasn't so Tavares-like.)
- Cheers to Mark Katic for his first NHL game, which also produced his first NHL point, an assist on that first Martin goal.
- Katic played 15:37, mostly with Gervais -- which, I keep saying in situations like this, isn't really fair to either of them. They saw a lot of Richards and Versteeg and van Reimsdyk. I don't really have a good read on Katic after tonight, so I welcome (as always) all your scouting observations based on tonight's sample.
- Flyers: Great game from Claude Giroux, including some excellent backchecking and a classic hip check on Nielsen. Also in the Philly section: I heard about a period and a half on their radio feed, and they've got a nice team. Radio teams are so often so much better, so much less B.S.
- Montoya made 39 saves, Bob made 32. I keep saying this, but it's nice: Montoya's saves, even though they were down 3-1 in the third tonight, are giving them a chance. That's good enough for now.
- FIG winner: Well this is a first -- meigs1414 won our FIG pool for the second game in a row, by selecting Nielsen correctly. (In accordance with the Danish prophecies, I should say.)
As Shane72 pointed out in the game thread, this is the kind of willful, pompous ignorance for context that Scott Burnside exhibits, all too frequently:
Two goals for Matt Martin of Isles to send game with Flyers to OT. By rights should still be suspended for goonfest vs Pittsburgh. Oh well.
Sure, buddy. Whatever you say. You're aware that was seven games ago, yes? Did you bother watching the tape, or the game, or the Isles this season -- or just the TSN loop? For another shining example of Burnside at his best, check out this excellent point at Pension Plan Puppets, on the things that Lee Stempniak can "prove." It's dead on.
Next Up: Saturday night, at home, for the Capitals, with many fans organizing a "white out" to support the Isles. Which means, as mikb said earlier today, we can wear our whites at home if we want to.