Against Washington, the Islanders controlled play for much of the first period and into the early part of the second. It would prove to be key to their victory, as the goals would stand until the clock ran out - with some help from Jaroslav Halak.
However, tonight, the first period was more evenly matched and Halak was not up to task, with the Stars getting the better of the chances and the lion’s share of the goals. Tyler Pitlick was there to bang home a puck bouncing off the back boards and Alexander Radulov took a shot off the rush that trickled through Halak’s five-hole.
Then, the wheels came off. Dallas walloped the Islanders throughout the second period in every statistic and impression imaginable.
Remi Elie - evidently, a real person - found himself the recipient of a voluptuous rebound in the middle of the offensive zone on a delayed penalty in the first minute, and then Jamie Benn took an innocent, undeflected, unscreened shot that he sat on for nearly three full seconds. Halak had plenty of time to set up for the goal, and still somehow missed it, ending his evening a bit early. Naturally, the Isles seemed to have checked out by then.
This frame was simply a matter of bookkeeping; the outcome had already been decided.
John Klingberg added to his lead over Nick Leddy in the points-by-a-defenseman contest when his point shot was tipped by Pitlick in the first minute. The Isles broke the shutout early in the third - Anders Lee scored on a rebound and had the sternest reaction to a goal I’ve ever seen, and late in the period he knocked in an airborne rebound on a power play - but a win was well out of reach and the teams used most of the remaining time to run practice drills.
Thoughts, Feelings, Things of that Nature
That was the Dreaded Laramie of hockey games. They skated and played like the toilet.
Okay, to be fair, they had more than a couple near-goals that just hopped over sticks or just missed the net - had they gotten one or two of those chances to drop and some better goaltending, this game may have unfolded entirely differently and we’re not having this conversation.
So, in essence, the Isles’ goaltending tandem of Halak and Thomas Greiss, which was arguably their strength last season, has been their undoing of late. It’s becoming increasingly problematic.
Generally speaking, you don’t want to get blown out on the first half of a back-to-back, but the Isles will have to hope to break convention tomorrow night when they visit the division-leading Columbus Blue Jackets. I already have headaches from that fucking cannon.