The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning traded power play goals and lots of unsuccessful chances on their way to an entertaining duel that ended 1-1 after 65 minutes. Frans Nielsen scored the lone "goal" in the shootout, beating a surprised and frozen Ben Bishop with his secondary "Forehand Five-Hole of Just-Keeping-You-Honest" shootout move.
Bishop and his counterpart Kevin Poulin were quite good through the rest of the game, however, which kept it close and exciting throughout. Thomas Vanek's second-period goal matched a first-period tally by Martin St. Louis.
The Islanders gave up the first goal of the game because that's just their thing this month. But their thing also includes overcoming that to salvage something, and while Tuesday that was just salvaging an entertaining yet futile comeback attempt against the Panthers, tonight it was a concerted push to tie it and grab the bonus point.
After a back-and-forth third period that titled the Lightning's way but didn't lack for dangerous Isles opportunities, an entertaining high-wire overtime followed. Alas, without a golden goal, it was time for laboratory breakaways.
The Great Dane's lab was best in show.
Bullets for Bullets' Sake
The posts, the posts, the damn posts: Technically they aren't "luck," as every goalie would point out: I mean the posts are fixed, and if you hit them wrong you didn't shoot well enough to score. But they are delightfully (and cruelly) auditory signs of how close you've come, and the Isles came that close at least three times tonight, including John Tavares late in the third with the game tied.
The Vanek goal: More impressive than you might expect, upon further review. It was an open-net tap-in for him after Frans Nielsen's pass, but what I didn't pick up during the live view was that Vanek had to get back up from his knees as the puck was coming to him. Nice faceoff and well done, powerplay.
Gudas hunting: The Isles tried to bump Radko Gudas here and there after his cheap move injured John Tavares last meeting, but nothing epic or memorable here. I actually didn't notice Gudas much beyond that.
Speaking of Lightning behemoths: I praised Victor Hedman in the preview -- it seems some don't realize he's really developed -- so of course he commits some bad turnovers on the power play and took two penalties, the second of which resulted in the Isles' tying goal. He missed the pivotal third Lightning shootout attempt too.
Credit where it's due: We give Andrew MacDonald enough gruff around here, so it's only proper to note when he makes a great defensive breakup, as he does often and did when he first came up. One of those was his sprawling sweep to strip Nate Thompson on a second period 2-on-1.
That said, tonight gave me more reasons to swoon for Calvin de Haan, in all facets.
"Pushback," in the parlance of our times: The Islanders' second period was very impressive, and good to see them finally rewarded for it by the buzzer. But the third period included more leaks and trading of chances than you'd like. They were outshot 8-3 in the period, though that excludes Tavares' post and a couple other close chances that didn't make their way to Ben Bishop.
The goalie: Again, Poulin was pretty outstanding with 29 saves. I mean, I'm not gonna talk about the goaltending because that's the motto (in eight languages!) and I'm always scared it won't last, but it's fair to say he's still capable of some excellent games. True, he lost track of the puck on Martin St. Louis' power play goal, but that was understandable considering the 90-degree carom it took, right to St. Louis' stick. St. Louis doesn't miss those.
The Islanders conclude this road trip in Philadelphia on Saturday, the first of a home-and-home with the Flyers. If they, oh, well ... I mean if they got three points out of that, they'd probably get people to think they really are resuscitating their season.
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