Alright, folks. How ‘bout it. 1:00 a.m. Islanders. 1:00 a.m.
sadness happiness????? And also madness! (I'm sorry I'm delirious.)
Tonight was Nikolay Kulemin’s 600th NHL game, Thomas Greiss played a full game for the first time in almost a month, and Jean-Francois Berube wore a uniform instead of street clothes, as he so often does.
NEW New Line Combos
The Islanders juggled their lines yet again in preparation for this game, bumping Anthony Beauvillier up to the top line riding co-pilot with John Tavares, Andrew Ladd down to the fourth (again), and Kulemin up to the second. Alan Quine returned to the lineup and Shane Prince watched from above.
First Period: "Hello Darkness, My Ol..." Wait a Minute
Beauvillier took an early penalty, and Cam Fowler scored on the power play, putting the Ducks up 1-0 only 1:04 into the game. A battle in the corner came out to Fowler at the point, who put a shot off the skate of a sprawled-out Nick Leddy before beating Greiss. Something something bad penalty kill. The Ducks were flying (haha) after this, and up until the first commercial break, it felt like your average 2016-17 Islanders game.
The Beauvillier-Tavares combination looks like one that should stick, at least for a little while (if only because Beau got a chance to center/carry his own line). In a period that looked ugly early on, they were able to generate some shots and chances, including a good shift that resulted in Leddy hitting the post. Their play seemed to wake up the rest of the Isles, and they followed that up with a goal on their next shift. Tavares apparently tipped a point shot actually screened Jonathan Bernier on a point shot off the stick of Adam Pelech, giving him his first NHL goal. Poor dude doesn’t get his first NHL goal puck, but Butch said he can relate, having never received his first NHL goal puck.
With the Ducks falling back on their heels, Sami Vatanen tripped up Brock Nelson to put the Islanders on the power play. They were able to generate some good pressure, and a gorgeous pass from Tavares was finished off with a one-timer from Josh Bailey, who tallied one against Anaheim yet again.
The period would end 2-1, but the Isles certainly controlled play in the second half of it. A necessary disclaimer, however: when playing against a Randy Carlyle-coached squad, your favorite team may actually look quite good, no matter how bad their record might be. It probably doesn’t mean much.
Second Period: Chances for Both
The Islanders’ power play got another opportunity when someone took a penalty, and they again moved the puck well, and actually took shots (some of which were on goal!!!). Among the chances that ultimately mean nothing: Bailey missed on a rebound chance off a Nick Leddy point-shot; Johnny Boychuk ripped a slapper from the blue line and Ladd was robbed by a diving Bernier on the rebound.
Midway through the period, young Ondrej Kase found himself all alone in front of the net and put the puck around a laid-out Greiss, but bounced it off the post right to the Isles’ goalie.
After giving up a goal on the first Ducks shot, Greiss shut the door, looking as solid as he did last season (and had previously struggled to show this season). Bernier also played well for Anaheim, and the score remained 2-1 going into the final period. Ducks defenseman Josh Manson flung Cal Clutterbuck into the boards, who left the game and did not return. It looked as though his head struck the glass on the hit.
Third Period: Ahh, This Feels Right
Another Islanders power play early in the period proved unfruitful, but the game developed a fast and physical tone shortly after, with the Ducks really scrambling to tie the game and the Isles trying to keep pace.
Kase again found himself all alone in front of Greiss, and again hit the post. In the process, however, Travis Hamonic appeared to have injured his bad hand, and after the whistle blew, he hustled into the locker room. He would, thankfully, return.
Rickard Rakell, normally a center but the latest player to ride shotgun with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, tied the game at two finishing a cross-ice pass from Perry. The track meet style of hockey caught up to the Isles this time, with Pelech leaving Rakell enough space to do the cha-cha.
The Isles’ PP, which had generated 13 shots on goal to this point, got another opportunity when Nick Ritchie took a holding penalty on Thomas Hickey. Once again, they ran roughshod on the Ducks’ PK, but almost immediately after the end of the man advantage, Ryan Kesler toe-dragged around an Isles defender and rang one off the post. To overtime we headed, for the fifth time in eight games.
Overtime: Welcome Back, Chaos
The always-exciting 3-on-3 OT brought with it chances for both sides, though it certainly seemed as though the Ducks had more chances. Greiss stood tall and sprawled wide to keep Anaheim at bay.
Shootout: Nothing is Easy for This Godforsaken Team
Who would've thunk there would be so much to write about a shootout? After an OT in which the Isles were lucky to squeak by, the shootout did not disappoint, and it had nothing to do with the result. The shootout lasted 14(!) rounds, the longest in Islanders history.
The teams traded saves/misses and goals, with Isles goals coming from Tavares, Ryan Strome, Kulemin, and Hickey (a goal that was actually reviewed for goalie interference, dragging this game out even later) while the Ducks got goals from Rakell, Fowler, Kase, and Shea Theodore.
Then, in the 14th round, Kevin Bieksa ripped off Boychuk’s prior shootout attempt, firing a slap shot from in close. Luckily, he missed wide, and it was up to Nick Leddy, who held it, held it, and held it some more before roofing one past Bernier to give the Islanders their sixth win of the season.
The Islanders are back at it tomorrow night, taking a short bus trip from their current location to Los Angeles to play the Kings at 10:30 p.m. Maybe they can keep up this momentum and translate it into more victories on this road trip. Maybe that's not the best idea. I don't know, they won for a change, I'm happy tonight.