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Game Recap: Islanders 5, Senators 4 (SO)- Isles Drive Fans to Drink in Victory

The Islanders were down by two. Then they were tied. Then they were down by two. Then they were tied. But it was where they were at the final whistle that ultimately mattered.

I'll just stop this with my toe
I'll just stop this with my toe

Looking to get back to NHL .500, the Islanders took a trip to the Canadian capital (Thanks Dan!) to take on the Ottawa Senators.

The Islanders controlled the majority of the play and outplayed the Sens for most of the game.  The Isles put 57(!) shots on goal, almost doubling up the Senators 31.  But in true Islanders fashion, a few mental breakdowns not only allowed Ottawa to stay in the game, but allowed them to lead much of the contest.

But the Islanders never gave up or got discouraged, and continued to drive the play until the final whistle.

Watching this game would turn a sane man crazy, a learned man stupid, and a sober man drunk.  And since I'm starting to lose my buzz, lets revisited the many key moments that eventually led to this Islanders victory.

Game Sum | Event Sum | Corsi (fancy stats) | Shift Charts | PBP | TOI | Faceoffs | Recaps: NHL | Isles | Silver Seven

Game Highlights

First Period: A Bottle of Beer

It looked like the Islanders were in for a long night after the opening drop of the puck.  The Senators spent nearly every second of the first 3:30 in the Islanders zone, as the good guys couldn't seem to be able to gain possession of the puck.

Things turned soon after that though.  The Islanders not only found the puck, but were able to do some good things with it.  The Islanders out shot Ottawa 18-6 going into the final minute and a half of the period, including a fruitless shorthanded opportunity for Michael Grabner.  The teams traded empty power plays and it looked as if we were headed to a scoreless first period.

Then the Islanders happened.  The same old Islanders.  Usual suspect #1 Andrew MacDonald made a feeble center ice pass from behind the goal line (I'm STILL trying to figure out who he was passing it to) and it was intercepted by Erik Condra.  Condra ripped the puck past Nabokov and into the back of the net for the game's opening goal.

So it looked as if there would be a one goal deficit at the first intermission, and then the Islanders happened...again.  Usual suspect #2 Evgeni Nabokov failed to handle Mika Zibanejad's hard, but saveable, shot from the boards and the Senators quickly found themselves up 2-0.  The puck hit the webbing of Nabokov's glove but he somehow couldn't corral it, and even Butch Goring admitted Nabokov had a chance on that one.

Second Period: A Shot of Whiskey

I don't even know where to start.  This turned out to be the most involved, absurd period the Islanders have played all season.

The Isles got on the board when John Tavares backhanded the puck past Robin Lehner to cut the lead in half and make the score 2-1.  Thomas Vanek picked up an assist on the goal, the result of a nifty pass to Tavares, and his first point as a New York Islander.  Then just 28 seconds later Matt Martin redirected a god awful shot from the point by Matt Carkner into the back of the net and just like that the score was tied.

But the period was just getting started.  Bobby Ryan put the Senators back on top with his 7th goal of the season, making the score 3-2.  Just two minutes later, the Senators would strike again...or did they?

Clarke MacArthur wrapped around the net as usual suspect #1 MacDonald was on the ice taking a knee.  MacArthur threw the puck at the net and usual suspect #2 Nabokov shakily tried keeping it out of the net.  As Nabokov fumbled around, MacDonald (I guess trying to help) proceeded to push his goalie towards the net.  Although the puck never seemed visible, the ref pointed to the net and called it a Senator goal.

Unless there are some deleted scenes floating around (like the goal cam), the puck never actually did go in the net from the film I watched.  But the referee thought it did, and apparently so did Toronto.  The goal was upheld and the Islanders found themselves back down by two again.

The Islanders kept chugging along though, and with the teams skating 4-on-4, Pierre-Marc Bouchard buried the rebound of a Matt Donovan shot, once again cutting the lead to one.  The refs (possibly making up for Ottawa goal number 4) gave the Isles a 5-on-3 power play for the final 57 seconds of the period, but they failed to capitalize.

Third period: A Glass of Wine

The Isles couldn't score on their remaining 5-on-3 power play to start the period, but continued to dominate the game.  Their play would pay off a little over 3 minuted into the third.  Bouchard dropped the puck off for Thomas Hickey, who proceeded to make a beautiful cross ice pass to Frans Nielsen, who wristed the puck into a wide open net to tie the game at 4.

The Islanders had a chance to take the lead about halfway through the period.  Bouchard found himself on a mini breakaway and tried beating Lehner five-hole, but Lehner was up to the task.  By the end of regulation, despite outplaying the Senators and the play of the usual suspects, the score remained tied and the Isles had at least gained a point as they headed to overtime.

Overtime and Shootout: A White Russian

A ho-hum overtime period got a little more excited when Vanek found himself all alone on a breakaway.  With a win dangling on his stick, Vanek was beaten by Lehner and the game headed to a shootout.

The shootout belonged to Nabokov.  As scary as he is to watch most of the time, Nabokov came up big in the shootout, stopping all 3 Senators shooters.

The Islanders needed only one goal in the shootout and they got it from none other than Nielsen.  Frans beat Lehner on a Danish Forehand Deke of Whatever the Hell You Want To Call It, and it was enough to give the Islanders a 5-4 victory.

Potent Potables:
  • Poor Cal Clutterbuck.  Apparently now the officials are telling you how you can react to getting a stick to the face.  Late in the second period, Clutterbuck took a Zack Smith stick to the face, cutting the Islanders forward.  But his reaction to the hit was too Hollywood for the refs, who sent Clutterbuck to the box for Unsportsmanlike Conduct.  No problem though, as Bouchard scored his goal during the ensuing 4-on-4.
  • The Isles 57 shots on net were the most they had in a game since October 25, 2008, when they had 60 shots on goal against Carolina.
  • Matt Donovan has had his rookie moments, but one shift during the third period gave us a glimpse of what could be for the young defenseman.  Donovan skated through the offensive zone and found Tavares with a nice cross-ice pass. Tavares couldn't tee up the shot, which led to a Senators break.  After Radek Martinek fell down, Donovan, left 1-on-3 vs the Sens forwards, dove to break up a pass that would have created a prime scoring opportunity for Ottawa.
  • Yes, Butch Goring did call Matt Martin "Mattin" at one point.  Makes me wonder if he's going to morph other players names together, like Johvares or Tramonic.
  • At least he's consistent.  With one minute to go in the third period of a tie game, Jack Capuano once again had the Martin-Cizikas-Nelson line out on the ice.
  • Kiss my GRITZ!!  Blake Comeau got a five minute fighting major after tussling with...oops, wrong game.