Brutal Start That Could’ve Been Worse
The Islanders came out flat to begin the game for the second time in a row and they could have fallen behind 3-0 if not for a deft challenge for offside. Less than five minutes into the game, Dylan Larkin split through both Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk to get a shot on net that Thomas Greiss was able to stop, but Justin Abdelkader was there to put home the rebound.
Only about 20 seconds later, an absolutely bizarre goal was recorded by Martin Frk after a harmless shot from the corner bounced off Frk and Thomas Hickey, and it looked like another one of those nights. However, the Isles lucked out when they successfully challenged for offside, essentially getting a goal back.
Didn’t matter too much, though, because Niklas Kronwall, who will come up again in a moment, snapped a shot from the point that Greiss never saw due to a screen in front.
There Will Be Blood
Anders Lee picked up the puck in the neutral zone with one hand on his stick and his head down when Kronwall, or Oliver Cromwell, according to Butch Goring, delivered one of his patented, illegal hits in which he left his feet and drove his shoulder into Lee’s face. Lee was holding his face on the ice and when he took his glove away, his visor and the ice filled with blood. Lee received cuts above his lip and above his eyebrow and missed the rest of the first and some of the second, likely in concussion protocol, before returning to the ice.
But the bad blood had been spilled, and a livid Barry Trotz sent out the fourth line in response. Josh Bailey interfered with and got up on Kronwall and Larkin began punching him with his gloves on. The two unlikely combatants were permitted to fight, and Larkin still didn’t drop one of his gloves, but only Bailey was given an extra penalty for his initial infraction. And the two teams continued to bang each other into the boards through the end of the first and into the second period.
Tying the Game Amidst More Blood
Casey Cizikas got on the board again with a nifty assist from Ross Johnston from behind the net, which surprised everyone, including Arthur Staple.
Bailey fights, Johnston creates goals. As we predicted.— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) December 9, 2018
The Wings took a slew of penalties right after the goal, resulting in a 5-on-3 for nearly a full minute. Even the Islanders’ dreadful power play couldn’t mess that opportunity up, and Bailey held the puck for a couple seconds at the bottom of the faceoff circle before feeding Ryan Pulock for the one-timed blast. The power play goal was the Islanders’ first successful conversion in 21 tries over 9 games; it had been almost a month since their last PPG.
Boychuk had a score to settle with Abdelkader for the latter’s slew foot on the former in a game at Barclays Center last February, and oh my lord did he destroy him. Smashed his face into his face, split his lip open and everything. Frankly, he looked furious, and I didn’t know the normally jovial Isles defenseman had it in him.
Fourth Liners Give Them the Game Again
Much like their win on Coliseum ice last weekend, the Islanders fell behind 2-0 and then got three unanswered goals to steal the game away, including the game-winner from a fourth liner. This time, it was Matt Martin who put the Isles on top for the night. A broken play found the puck on Cal Clutterbuck’s foot, and he kicked it in Martin’s direction. He lifted the puck past Detroit goalie Jonathan Bernier and the Islanders held on to the lead for the rest of the game, despite pressure from the Wings.
The Islanders are back at the Coliseum twice this week, including their next game Monday night as the Penguins come to town. It will be their final matchup against Pittsburgh.