Folks, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Islanders and Senators played a day game, and the Islanders did not play well.
Today, the Islanders traveled to the Canadian capital to take on the Ottawa Senators as they looked to keep their hot streak alive. The lineup remained the same from the last game (as did the lines), with Cal Clutterbuck and Travis Hamonic continuing to nurse their injuries. Alan Quine played his first game in his hometown, while Shane Prince returned to Ottawa for the first time since being dealt here last season. Thomas Greiss remained in net, with JF Berube likely going against the terribad Colorado Avalanche tomorrow evening back in Brooklyn.
The big story: Craig Anderson returns to make his first start since leaving to be with his wife, Nicholle, who has been battling cancer. Glad to have him back - the game is better with him. A great individual who helps us recognize and remember that life is more than just hockey.
The Senators also held a moment of silence for Little Caesar’s creator and longtime Red Wings owner Mike Illitch, who passed yesterday at the age of 87.
Getting down to business, the Islanders are in the thick of the wild card race, which I still can’t believe. Oddly enough, they would be better suited to win today’s game in overtime (not the shootout, but overtime) than they would be in regulation.
Cheering guide for Islanders at senators pic.twitter.com/4IKbaU213E— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 11, 2017
Pretty quirky, but whatever it takes! (I’ll also happily take a regulation win - even a shootout win, I’m not too picky.)
First Period: Not... ideal!
The game got off to a fluky-but-in-a-negative-way start for the Isles. Mark Stone skated down the wing and hit Erik Karlsson in the slot. Karlsson’s flubbed shot petered wide, but Stone had made his way behind the net and just threw the puck at the back of the skates of Greiss, trickling in behind him.
The top line for the Islanders was dominating in their usual fashion in the first period, as they have been the last 10-20 games or so. Anderson had to be sharp - no time to be rusty. He was up to the challenge, though, and held the Isles off in the chances they had.
The rest of the Islanders did not seem so awake, though. Overall, a not-great first period - for the second game in a row - that also saw an ugly penalty kill only bailed out by Greiss, in what would be a lone bright spot in an otherwise lackluster game for him.
Second Period: Not what you want to do...
The Islanders seemed primed to the task of a one-goal deficit, throwing four shots on Anderson within the first 90 seconds, with no luck. It would cost them.
Dion Phaneuf sent a long pass to Kyle Turris. Turris carried over the line and sent a beautiful backhand feed to Zack Smith, who got Greiss to snow-angel.
Making matters worse, John Tavares and much of PP1 stayed out way too long on Smith’s penalty. Tom Pyatt poked it into the neutral zone and Jean-Gabriel Pageau joined him on a 2-on-1 against Johnny Boychuk, Tavares struggling to get back. Pageau tipped Pyatt’s pass over a falling Greiss to pretty much seal the deal.
Third Period: Let’s blow this popsicle stand
The Isles seemed to think the deal was sealed as well. They checked out for the most part. The Senators did a good job of not letting shots to get through to Anderson, but the ones that Anderson did face were stopped easily. They seemed more ready to hop on the plane than anything else by this point, though they were delayed a bit by penalties to Prince and Tavares.
Immediate Reaction: This was a forgettable one
Well, they obviously weren’t going to win them all, but they really do seem to lose them at the worst times. As of this writing, the Flyers beat the Sharks in overtime, the Bruins stole a win away from the Canucks in the final minutes, and the Panthers are blowing out the Predators. The Stars lead the Hurricanes 4-1, so that’s something, but Detroit and Tampa Bay have their own games tonight, while the Maple Leafs host the Sabres. In other words, the Isles gained 0 points while most of their competitors seem primed to pick up at least one point. Ick.
Don’t get too involved in anything besides hockey this weekend folks. Not only are there a metric ton of games implicated in our playoff push today, there are even more tomorrow - including another one of our own!
The horrendous Avs begin a five-game Eastern Conference swing tonight against the Rangers, and stop by Brooklyn tomorrow evening for a 6:00 p.m. ET dinner-interrupting contest. It’ll be on MSG+, and it will also be an NHL.tv Free Game. Wonder if they’ll leave a Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog shaped present for us before they go.