The New York Islanders headed into the daunting southern California stretch of their road trip with a three-game losing streak and with captain John Tavares logging "only" three points in his last seven games.
A visit to Anaheim and a visit from the flu bug helped break the drought.
The flu took Ducks stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry out of the lineup, while John Tavares scored both the opening goal and the overtime winner to give the Isles a much-needed 3-2 win.
Smelling blood, the Isles outshot the Ducks 12-4 in the first period and 19-5 in the first half of the game. Thinks leveled to 33-33 by the end of regulation though, with the Ducks making an impressive push to erase the Isles 2-0 lead in the final 11 minutes of the second period.
A fortunate power play in overtime (Sami Vatanen did get his arm up in Calvin de Haan's face, but...seen far worse go uncalled) paved the way for Tavares' winner, the Islanders' second power play goal of the night.
- It was listed as "flu" for Getzlaf and Perry, but I sure hope it's not that dreaded SoCal "bacterial infection" that took out so many Blues players and -- well, actually I couldn't care less about Getzlaf and especially Perry. I just don't want the Isles to contract whatever they're having.
- I watched the first Tavares goal, a low-angle shot on a rebound, many many times. Still don't know how he did it. Cheers to Calvin de Haan for pinching low to collect the puck around the boards and send it to the net though, after Kyle Okposo won the faceoff.
- The productive regression of Jaroslav Halak continued, as he made 32 saves and didn't allow another goal after the Ducks surged back in the second period. He was good during most of that surge; he'd probably like the tying goal back -- a shot from out high in the blueline -- but it came through a screen off a quick turnaround by Emerson Etem after a bad bounce/turnover high in the Isles zone.
- Both Eric Boulton (first game of the season) and Matt Martin played, but there were no fights and just five penalties overall. That bug must be hitting Anaheim hard.
- Yes, Ryan Strome was with Boulton and Martin all night. He got work on both special teams though, so he actually played a season-high total of 14:06. (Both Boulton and Martin were under 10 minutes.)
- With their big guns sick, the Ducks relied on Ryan Kesler for 21 minutes, the most among forwards on either side. He only got one shot through on goal, but had an assist and won 65 percent of his faceeoffs (17-9). His deflection also inadvertently helped the Tavares winner get past LaBarbera.
- The Good Kind of "Okposto": Just when you thought the Isles had wasted that power play at the end of the first period, they score during its dregs, just 10 seconds into the second period. Okposo rank a shot off the post ... and in!
- As you know if you saw it (it's at the end of the highlights clip above), the Tavares winner wasn't exactly textbook. But fortunate deflections count too.
- Aside from the goals, my favorite moment of the night was on the power play where Brock Nelson tried to head in the rebound of a Ryan Strome shot. They looked good together with the extra man. (Think that highlight is about 50 seconds into the highlight reel above).
Whatever He Is, Eric Boulton is Awesomely Self-Aware
"A win in November, which is always news for them." - Howie Rose on the #Isles win in Anaheim.— Dan Saraceni (@cultureoflosing) November 6, 2014
There are all kinds of things we can fret about -- it's what we do best as fans: They still needed overtime despite the home team missing its two top stars. Despite them using a quasi-emergency goalie in Jason LaBarbera. They dressed both Matt Martin and Eric Boulton (Jack Capuano thought Casey Cizikas was "pressing" too much). They didn't do something or other that fans declare is obvious.
But the bottom line tonight is two points. They needed it. They got it. Now 7-5 and on to try to do it again Thursday night in L.A.