Weird stuff always happens when the Stars and Islanders get together for some reason. Matt Moulson's four-goal game, Frans Nielsen's first hat trick in a wild shooting gallery and now this - a flop that flipped then flopped again.
Twelve seconds from nothing, two thirds of The Kid Line combined to get the Islanders a point. But a costly overtime turnover prevented what would have been a robbery.
The Tyler Kennedy Era will have to wait for another day as the new acquisition was declared out of the game after warm-ups. Kael Mouillierat, who was supposed to be the scratch for the game, was inserted back into the line-up.
And immediately there was another line-up change as Matt Martin was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for kneeing Dallas defenseman Trevor Daley while they were crisscrossing the Stars' zone. Daley lay on the ice and went back to the bench before leaving the game. Martin is a lot of things, but he's not a head (or knee) hunter, so we await any further discipline. He looked sincerely upset at seeing the video on the Jumbotron, for what it's worth.
Of immediate concern was the five minute penalty the Islanders had to kill. But some aggressive moves and fortuitous bounces kept the Stars to only one or two chances.
Major killed off. Might have been the best PK stretch from #Isles all season.
— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) March 4, 2015
Just after their own power play expired, the Islanders took a 1-0 lead on a short triangular tic-tac-toe play from Brock Nelson to Ryan Strome to Josh Bailey, who was just a few feet from the net mouth. Travis Hamonic set up the play with a coast-to-coast carry in that drew two defenders behind the net and opened up Nelson to start the chain.
The Islanders killed off another penalty to start the second, but the period was tilted towards Dallas. Halak came up huge, including big saves (and even bigger clears) during immediate back-to-back delay of game penalties for shooting the puck over the glass. The second penalty was called on Thomas Hickey when he basically bunted the puck with the shaft his stick while battling in front of the net.
Halak was the difference going into the third period and it was only a matter of time before Dallas, third in the league in goals per game, broke through. An untouched Brett Ritchie tied the game by picking up a Halak rebound. And about two minutes later, John Klingberg's point shot took a lucky bounce off the glass landed at the feet of Vernon Fiddler, who also was left unattended to right next to Halak.
From that moment, the Islanders turned up the intensity and started getting more opportunities that Kari Lehtonen stopped. A retaliatory slashing penalty by Ryan Strome with about three minutes to go seemed to put the kibosh on the whole deal. The Islanders pulled Halak, but couldn't get anything going.
With twelve seconds remaining and the American Airlines Center crowd on its feet, Strome skated the puck the length of the ice and dished to Travis Hamonic for a point shot. The rebound bounced to Anders Lee who corralled and shot from the boards at a tight angle. The shot deflected off of the foot of defenseman Jordie Benn and behind Lehtonen with 1.1 seconds to go.
And just like that, the Islanders went from no points and a bunch of "passenger" talk to one point and a second chance to salvage the first game of a four game road trip.
A cautious beginning to overtime led to three quick plays, the last of which decided the game. A Johnny Boychuk give away at the top of the crease was stopped by Halak's quick pads. The Islanders sprung the other way and John Tavares fed Thomas Hickey, who hit perhaps the loudest post of the season.
Following the whistle, an indecisive Strome turned the puck over at the Stars blue line to Jamie Benn. On a textbook 2-on-1 break, Benn dished to Cody Eaken, who wired it in over a splitting Halak.
Game over, point lost, angry Halak, sad Strome.
Notes n' Randomness
- Positives: Halak played very well and none of the goals could really be pinned on him; the PK was excellent and encouraging, limiting the Stars to very few actual chances; hey one point is better than nothing and it puts the Islanders back in first place in the Metro.
- I thought about this when I found out about Kennedy's scratch and again during the game of misfit lines. I wouldn't put too much stock in line combos while the Islanders continue to deal with injuries. This isn't the Islanders' optimum line-up - not by a longshot - so Jack Capuano is probably entitled to a little experimentation and blender spinning to see what works and what doesn't in the event that the injured don't return as quickly as we like. I know rosterbation takes up good portion of our readership's day, but that's my unsolicited advice. I'm also probably wrong or a communist but I don't care.
- That being said, Martin's penalty was unnecessary and stupid. His absence caused already goofy lines to be messed with even further. That might not explain the Islanders overall sloppiness, but it probably didn't help either.
- October-Through-February Josh Bailey has 12 goals. Was tonight the first goal of March Josh Bailey's annual return? He was good all game, as was the first line when they were able to get on the ice between PKs.
- Garth Snow spoke with Shannon Hogan during the first intermission and didn't say much beyond what he already told the beatwriters following the trade deadline. Two quotes I found entertaining:
"We've got a lot of depth at forward and defense, we got an upgrade in net. It's up to coaches. I'm just a glorified fan now."
(on chemistry) "They've gone through a lot of down times as a group. A lot of people of taken shots at them, me, the coaches and it's galvanized them"
- Help us, Tyler Kennedy. You're our only hope.
- There's still no word on what his injury is, but let's hope it's not this serious
- The Predators, the Islanders next opponent, lost tonight in New Jersey, their fourth straight defeat. Thursday is either a chance to pounce on a vulnerable opponent or hand out more smiles to another road crowd.
- I have never once recapped an Islanders win. So this one is on me. Sorry, everyone.