(A trip back through the goals scored by the Islanders during the last season, be they meaningful, dramatic, ironic, hilarious, incredible or none or all of the above. An on-going off-season series. Maybe. We'll see. Just because.)
It seems silly now, 85 games, one playoff series and several long, winding, draining months later. But at the time, when the Islanders beat the San Jose Sharks to go to 4-0 on the season, a single shootout win in October really felt like the beginning of something special.
Only twice in their history had the Islanders started a season with four straight wins. It's trivia, but it was enough to continue the flow of electricity, which had really begun to spin with the acquisitions of Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy just prior to opening night.
Both the Islanders and Sharks were undefeated going into the game, which was surprising for one team and expected from the other. For two periods, the Islanders pumped shots at goalie Alex Stalock, but trailed 2-1 going into the third period. Instead of going 4-0 for the first time since 2001, it looked like the Islanders might be headed to their first "stolen by a goalie" game of the season.
When Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey scored in a three minute span to give the Islanders the lead, the scales seemed to be tilting. But Tomas Hertl blew past a falling Leddy to roof one over Jaroslav Halak (in probably the real goal of the game), and the chance at being the last undefeated team in the Eastern Conference (not to mention hanging on to the all-important first-week-of-the-season division lead) was in jeopardy.
To the shootout it went and after Logan Couture and Okposo scored in the first set, it went to extras. That's where John Tavares went deke-in crazy:
I tried to count the dips and doodles, but stopped after the first half dozen or so. Looks like Stalock did, too. He moves a little, freezes and watches the backhanded puck float by him.
Spoiler Alert: there will probably be a few more Tavares shootout goals in this series, including ones like this, where he slows down time Quicksilver-style, makes a million moves and is on to the next job before anyone realizes what's happened.
Halak stopped Joe Thornton on the final shot (or Thornton sailed it over the net. It's hard to tell.) and the Islanders, for a brief, glorious moment, were on top of the world.
They then lost their next game in Pittsburgh, 3-1.