"If it's over and you know it
and the Islanders won't blow it
If it's over and you know it
Clap your hands"
If you were a casual hockey fan and this was your first time watching Islanders hockey all season, there was a 30 second moment in the third period where you would have sworn the Islanders put tonight's game away.
Two big Evgeni Nabokov saves were followed up 22 seconds later by a goal resulting from Frans Nielsen/Michael Grabner Two on One: Take Two, and it looked like the home team may have done enough to come away with a regulation win.
But these are the New York Islanders, and in Islanders Country you can't have nice things.
For 57 minutes of tonight's game, you saw glimpses of the Islanders who captured your hearts and carried them all the way to playoff hockey last year. The second line was buzzing (though not finishing). The first line was having their way with the Tampa Bay defense. The Islanders as a team weren't taking any crap from the Lightning players. Nabokov was doing his best to keep the puck out of the net.
But as well as the Islanders had played, they still were having problems scoring. It had been over a hundred minutes since the Isles last goal when Kyle Okposo finally found the back of the net on the power play with his 11th goal this season.
The power play carried over from the first period, and it only took 11 seconds into the second for the Islanders to capitalize. Brock Nelson, who was taking some rough stuff on the opening faceoff, formed a superscreen in front of the net with Thomas Vanek. The double wide screen blocked Ben Bishop from ever seeing Okposo's slap shot, and the Islanders found themselves on top 1-0.
The score stayed that way fro another period and a half, until Nielsen finished a nice pass from Grabner, scoring his 11th of the season and doubling the Islanders lead, 2-0. Things were looking pretty good until Valtteri Filppula took over.
Seeing Okposo and Nielsen collect their 11th goals, Filppula didn't want to be outdone. He took a nice feed from Nielsen (not nice for Islanders fans) and wristed it past Nabokov with 2:53 remaining, collecting his 11th goal of the campaign and cutting the Isles lead in half.
The Islanders withstood a good followup shift by the Lightning and had a few chances at an open net with time winding down. But the last person who should be taking a shot at the empty net, Brian Strait, did so from center ice and it resulted in an Islanders turnover.
From there it was classic Islanders, and with all 5 Isles in front of the crease, trying to cover or clear the puck, it found it's way to Filppula, who backhanded it into the open side of the net with only 3.8 seconds left to tie the game at 2.
From there overtime...shootout...loss. But to be honest, it felt like the Islanders had already lost the game with 3.8 seconds left, OT loss point or not.
You Have Selected Agent Zero, If That's Correct Press 1:
It's been forever since Grabner has scored a goal, and almost forever since Josh Bailey has scored. And while neither managed to get on the board, it wasn't from a lack of trying.
The second line looked as good as it has in over a month, and both Grabner and Bailey collected their first points in eons on the Nielsen goal. (Grabner's frist in 25 games, Bailey's first in 12). The line's good play resulted in many odd man chances against Bishop.
The best scoring chance came on Nielsen/Grabner Two on One: The Original. Grabner made a nifty feed to Nielsen who should have had an empty net to shoot at. But Bishop moved across the crease with lightning speed to stymie the Dane.
Bailey found himself on the end of two breakways in the first period. He barely got a shot off on the first, as he looked to lean into the defenseman, who was still a step behind Bailey. The breakaway was possible after a beautiful outlet pass by Calvin De Haan, followed by an equally beauitful back pass from Grabner.
The second Bailey breakaway was an even better chance. But the puck rolled up on it's end and Bailey fired it high over the net and off the glass. No excuses though, that puck needs to be on net, if not in the back of it.
Grabner also found himself on multiple breaks, one which he created by outracing the puck and actually bodying a Tampa Bay defenseman in the open ice to gain control of it.
But in the end, still zeroes on the board for the duo.
From Russia With Glove:
You're starting to think that if Nabokov had just pulled his groin a couple weeks before the season started then maybe the Islanders would be in the playoff hunt right now.
Ever since returning from IR, Nabokov has looked really good. Again the defense let an Islanders goalie down, and tonight it was Nabokov. Less than three minutes from a shutout, Nabokov made some great saves when he needed to, and deserved better than the loss in this game.
Scary Movie 2:
Earlier in the year, Islanders fans watched John Tavares go hard into the boards and sweated it out until they realized their star player was alright.
Well tonight, an almost identical situation happened. Tavares went hard into the boards after a Radko Gudas aided fall. Tavares looked like he was in bad shape as he belly crawled out of a scrum and was met by the Islanders trainer. Anytime a player is crawling and grimacing, you fear the worse.
But Tavares skated to the bench on his own power and Islanders fans breathed a big sigh of relief.
- Islanders News: Nabby's presence; Strome on adjustment; Isles offensive woes
- Peters? Gleason? Carolina Hurricanes Trying to Trade You Their Junk
- Islanders News: Reaching for reasons to keep watching
- [Bits] Shutouts & Suspensions on a Snowy Sunday
- Recap - Montreal Canadiens 1, New York Islanders 0 (OT): Nabby returns, Isles scoreless in Ryan Strome's debut