For the first two-plus periods, the New York Islanders' final preseason game at Nassau Coliseum felt a lot like their first one in Brooklyn: No goals, a game slipping away to a thud that deflates the home fans. That changed, thankfully, and while it still ended in a 4-2 loss, fans at least got to hear the goal horn a couple of times.
The game was marked by a string of Islanders penalties, and Carolina used all power play goals to grow their lead to 3-0 early in the third period on a lengthy 5-on-3. Casey Cizikas broke the shutout on the ensuing faceoff with a shorthanded goal.
Aside from those difference-making penalties and unsuccessful PKs, the most notable event was when Brett Bellemore elbowed T.J. Brennan in the head, garnering just a minor penalty.
The Islanders responded.
First, once Bellemore got out of the box Matt Martin grabbed him for a fight. And then...
On next #Isles shift, all three forwards -- Lee, Cizikas, Clutterbuck -- cleanly put Skinner on his rear. This is Metropolitan Div. hockey!— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) September 25, 2014
Closing Out the Score
Job-chasing Cory Conacher had a golden chance to bring the Isles to within a goal, but Carolina goalie Drew McIntyre dove out of the net to prevent Conacher from pulling it around him into an open net, and Jeff Skinner took a hacking penalty just to make sure.
Befitting their special teams performance, the Isles generated little on that power play, and Frans Nielsen blew a tire in spectacular fashion which allowed Jiri Tlusty a breakaway stopped by Jaroslav Halak, who played the full game.
The teams exchanged a pair of late goals -- Halak having an odd leg pad equipment issue on one, Ryan Strome creating traffic for Griffin Reinhart's shot on the other -- to reach the final score of 4-2.
A Bright Spot
Considering the Islanders dressed a pretty strong lineup, the night's overall execution was disappointing, the 5-on-5 play constantly disrupted by penalties.
But one fun point was very early on, when the kid line of Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome had the puck in the Hurricanes zone for what seemed like a full minute.
That combo is enticing for what it could be -- the concept of Perfect World Lee, Perfect World Nelson, and Perfect World Strome. While Perfect World exists only in a laboratory, this was a shift where all the physical forces just right. (Well, except for whatever nuclear force is in charge of making sure the experiment ends with a goal.)
Meanwhile, given the last few days in the NHL, it's just a relief to know no one broke their leg.
Capuano on Special Teams, Grabovski
In the post-game, coach Jack Capuano was asked about the special teams. He acknowledged they were poor on both ends, but said they weren't yet a focus in camp, though would be soon and, presumably, once the roster is narrowed.
He was also asked how Mikhail Grabovski looked in a trial on John Tavares' wing. While Capuano said it's hard to give an instant judgment -- Capuano doesn't possess message board wisdom, evidently -- Capuano thought Grabovski "had some good shifts, and then he had some shifts where you could see, with the system that we play he was used to being the center there."
Sounds like it could be a late-game situational combo if anything, but like all of this: It's still premature to say.
Next Up: The Islanders return to Brooklyn Friday for another preseason meeting with the Devils. This time, with goals, surely.