With no meaningful standings impact, we're in Milestone Mode, so I'll start there: Michael Grabner scored his 32nd and 33rd goals of the season -- one off a great feed from a COZO (Comeau Offensive Zone Orbit), the other on a shorthanded breakaway in which he channeled Frans Nielsen and went high backhand side. Josh Bailey started the PK breakaway by launching a great pitch-and-run-Grabs-RUN play.
The first Grabner goal tied it at 1-1, the second made it a game in the second period by narrowing the margin to 3-2. When things were even, the rest of the way was a fun, close game. The Bruins had four powerplays (officially five, counting the 5-on-3), the Islanders had two; WebBard takes note. The most impressive PK and the biggest factor in the first period was probably the full, two-minute 5-on-3 that the Isles killed in no small thanks to Ty Wishart and Travis Hamonic manning the base of the triangle.
That was spoiled by a Bruins goal allowed with 0.1 seconds left on the clock in the first, but more on that in a moment.
About the Photo: Overall, the Bruins did their best to rough John Tavares up by doing the little chippy things, and finally that drew a call against Johnny Boychuk to give the Isles a powerplay with five minutes left in the third. That was their chance; the Isles didn't convert. Their powerplay success continues to be as sparse as their number of actual powerplay opportunities. Boychuk probably rightly thought maybe JT deserved a retaliation call, but overall the Bruins got away with plenty of extra muggings on Tavares, so this was almost an accumulation call. ... not that officials ever think that way, no never!
The Goals Against
Bruins 1-0: I had problems with the first Bruins goal, with multiple culprits. Josh Bailey mishandled the puck at the beginning of the play, then the Bruins fired it at the net with time winding down, and while it was understandable that Radek Martinek had trouble locating the bouncing puck, both he and Dylan Reese attempted stick checks on their men (Reese on the passer, Martinek on the scorer) that failed. To top it off, rather than stay square and slide across the crease with the pass, Rick DiPietro got stuck with his feet in the mud and just sort of laid across the crease in mermaid position.
Bruins 2-1: The second Bruins goal came off a defensive zone faceoff that stemmed from an icing right after the Isles killed a penalty. The penalty was on Trevor Gillies, so that meant he and Zenon Konopka were still out there for the post-icing faceoff. Puck shifted around to Gillies' point, where Dennis Seidenberg fired a point shot that went through traffic, including Konopka, who was trying to get his man off of DiPietro at the top of the crease.
Bruins 3-1: Bouncing puck in the corner that Mark Katic was unable to corral and clear. Son of Colin took the puck out from the corner and shot short-side past DiPietro, whose stick-side arm opened up. Bad goal for DiPietro, with the assist to Katic.
- Understandably, I didn't really notice Matt Campanale, who wore #55 and logged 8:21 in his NHL debut on this ATO. He did pick up his first official stats by clearing the puck over the glass in the third for an automatic two minute minor. He was paired with Martinek to start with, then with Hamonic through the mid-portion of the game before seeing a little more spot duty with Martinek. Almost shockingly, the Islanders made it through a game without losing a defenseman to penalties or injury, so it was pretty easy for the Islanders to protect Campanale.
- Which, really, I mean this was a helluva effort for that battered blueline. Cheers to all of them, even through their mistakes.
- Speaking of ice time...with all the penalties and playing from behind for two-thirds of the game, Zenon Konopka and Micheal Haley saw under eight minutes and Trevor Gillies saw 5:36. Matt Martin, on the other hand, skated 14:19 and did his part to create some chances with Blake Comeau, who played center again.
- Even without his two goals, Grabner looked like the main Islanders threat all night. It's been a fun season appreciating what his speed can do, both in creating his own chances and in getting open for chances like his first goal.
- Tim Thomas made a few great saves and also a few hairy moments that made me hope we might see the Thomas who lost to the Rangers the other night. But it wasn't to be. DiPietro for his part also made some great saves, mixed with hairy moments wandering from his crease to play the puck, plus the aforementioned two goals I think he should have had.
FIG Winner: The FIG herder, the power ranker, and the man who insisted he would never win a FIG finally pulled one out in the third-to-last game of the season. Cheers to ICanSeeForIslesAndIsles for selecting Grabner and getting one of the assists right.
Now an open date to prepare for the big Penguins rematch Friday at home. Fan Appreciation Night indeed.