The New York Islanders played a couple of solid games in their Florida swing and came away with two points from four games. Fair result, and one not diminished by the victory coming via shootout over the Panthers.
The official difference? A Frans Nielsen Danish Backhand of Judgment, of course. This one was particularly tricky against the right-catching Jose Theodore, and Nielsen needed all the real estate possible to slip it in off the post.
(I might be wrong, but it looked like Doug Weight called him over for strategic discussion before the breakaway contest...and before Weight let the refs have it, again, for a blown call in OT.)
For the Isles efforts, they avoided a season sweep at the hands of the Panthers and also made it count, as this loss is a missed opportunity for Florida. The Panthers are in a string of six games against teams in the league's bottom third, and the first three have not gone as planned: A loss to Carolina followed by shootout losses to Edmonton and the Isles.
Steven Weiss is Good: Things started off frighteningly enough, with Tomas Fleischmann pulling off some nifty work behind the net against the Isles' top defensive pair to ultimately set up Stephen Weiss for a bang-bang goal.
That was just 5:55 into a first period where the Isles were outshot 16-9 and on their heels. By the end of the game, they'd finish with a 37-35 shots advantage as the next two periods and overtime were much better.
Matt Moulson Just Scores Goals. That's what he do. Just another nice positional maneuver and placement of his shot after John Tavares' oops-pass slipped to him. It was a pretty combo between Moulson and Johnny T. to set it up. So the small bit of luck there was well earned.
Okposo Hits 17: All the trouble and scratches and identity blur he's had this year, and he's going to end up with a goal total right around what is fast becoming his career norm. The problem is people hoped for improvement this season -- not necessarily in his goal total, which has always hovered around a goal every four games, but in overall play. We'll see if he finishes with some good vibes and a chance to restart heading into next season.
What was That? Mark Streit's fairly benign clear up the glass took a bounce low right to Tomas Kopecky, who alertly redirected it to Thomas Fleischmann, who alertly put a quick shot on Evgeni Nabokov, who was alerted but beaten on the quick turn of events.
OT Chaos, Theodore Off the Hook: Especially because this game didn't matter, it was kind of fun to see Mark Streit down low playing with John Tavares playing like two goal-minded forwards in the 4-on-4 OT period. Streit has been doing more and more intelligent pinching lately, and in fact his rush to the net is what enabled Okposo's tying goal to go in off of Dmitry Kulikov's stick.
The Isles had a great deadly opportunity to win it in OT with Michael Grabner and Frans Nielsen moving the puck with Streit, and Theodore without his stick, but huge Panthers desperation defense and a completely missed throwing of the stick by Theodore prevented a goal.
Doug Weight's clear, lip-readable, exasperated reaction on the bench after an unsatisfactory explanation of why Theodore wasn't called for throwing his stick: "[Avery] off." Which drew a calming hand from Jack Capuano.
Ullström Knows Where to Go: Gotta love David Ullstrom driving the net all night. He drew an erroneous goalie interference penalty in the first -- Erik Gudbranson checked him into Jose Theodore -- and play was correctly whistled in OT when Ullstrom's momentum carried him over Theodore.
* * *
Nielsen was the only player to convert his shootout attempt, as John Madden, Wojtec Wolski and John Tavares were stopped, and Marcel Goc lost the handle on the final attempt.
The Islanders pick things up again Tuesday in Pittsburgh, where they finish this five-game road string. The win leaves them in 26th overall for the moment.
Elsewhere [SPOILER ALERT -- NCAA -- SPOILER ALERT]...
...Brock Nelson's North Dakota team was ousted from the NCAA in the regional final with Minnesota today, losing 5-2 and marking the end of Nelson's ... season?