The biggest win of the evening, for we fans of the Islanders, was that the Flames wore their alternates/better jerseys. The white ‘C’ and numbers pops so much more out of that beautiful red jersey with orange trim than their actual home jerseys with a black logo and numbers.
And that would be about the only beautiful thing Islanders fans would see tonight. Well, that’s not entirely true: Travis Hamonic scored a goal for Calgary, and we all still love Travis. The current Islanders, though, played horrendously tonight.
The Start of Something Bad
The rust from three days without games showed early on for the Islanders, and the Flames are too good of a team not to exploit a little rust. They scored the first goal of the game exactly 5:00 into the game before the Islanders even recorded a shot.
Mat Barzal’s pass to the cross-ice point was well-behind Devon Toews, who was unaware of the pass coming and was cutting in toward the net. Michael Frolik and Mikael Backlund grabbed the puck and went the other way on a 2-on-0 and, though Toews got back, Frolik flicked a perfect saucer pass to Backlund. Backlund’s slight hesitation, intentional or not, was enough to draw Thomas Greiss out of position to leave a yawning cage for Backlund.
They weren’t done, either. Anders Lee drew a penalty against former Islander Travis Hamonic, but the power play was its usual horrendous self. Calgary received a power play and, ironically enough, the Islanders probably had their most dangerous chance of the period during it and didn’t even get a shot off — Tom Kuhnhackl and Valtteri Filppula couldn’t connect on a 2-on-1 fast break.
And to avenge himself, Hamonic scored the second Flames goal of the period off the face-off. Backlund won it back to the right side wall, where Elias Lindholm nudged it out to Hamonic at the point. He smacked a slapshot through a sea of bodies and Greiss didn’t even see it blow past him.
Isles Score, but Second Period Still Ugly
The Islanders got themselves on the board finally in the second period, and it would stand as the only goal scored for either team. The Isles’ top line got the puck deep and, as part of a line change, Casey Cizikas stepped on to the ice for Barzal. He received a pass from Josh Bailey and threw it toward Mike Smith, who made the initial save but then kicked it backwards into his own net.
The Islanders may have cut the lead in half, but they were still roundly demolished by the Flames. Perhaps wasn’t as dreadful a period as the first, as the Islanders did actually create a couple opportunities for themselves, but Calgary kept the puck in the Islanders’ end for a large majority of the frame once again, and shots on goal stood at 23-7 for the game after the second ended. Also, it appeared that Cal Clutterbuck left the game by the end of the period, but did return.
Brief Elation, Followed by Stark Reminders
The Islanders, despite playing one of their worst games of the season, found themselves tied at 2-2 with the Flames after some good work in the corner by Brock Nelson set it up. As Nelson skated back toward the net from the right corner, he found Jordan Eberle across the crease in front of Smith. Eberle juggled it a little bit under pressure, but still found Lee wide open in the slot and Smith, committed to Eberle, left the net wide open as well. It was lovely, for a moment, but it wouldn’t last.
The goal that put Calgary back on top was, more than anything else, bad luck for the Islanders. Mark Jankowski threw the puck at Greiss off the rush and Greiss made the stop, but the rebound was accidentally kicked in by Leo Komarov as he pulled up his stride speeding to get back. Apparently, Austin Czarnik touched the puck because he was ultimately credited with the goal. Nevertheless, New York trailed once again.
Then, for added pain, the Flames went on the power play due to a late hit on Garnet Hathaway by Nick Leddy immediately after the goal, and Johnny Gaudreau scored six seconds into it.
The remaining time was devoted to chippy play and Nelson and Backlund going off for the ol’ trip-and-dive cancelling minors. Except Backlund threw a bit of a tantrum and was tossed from the game, though he had a case. Didn’t look like embellishment so much as he slipped.
Mat Barzal had his left knee buckle under him during a collision during the third and he limped getting up afterwards, but returned for his next shift, where he promptly lost an edge and crashed into the boards and went right back off. He apparently limped again a bit heading back to the bench after a shift ended toward the end with the net empty. He played again after that, taking an interference penalty with the net empty to try to prevent another goal, and a brawl ensued when he voiced his displeasure with Hathaway putting the puck in the net anyway.
But yeah, other than that, this one sucked and I can probably say the only players that didn’t look shitty were Cizikas and Greiss. Not even gonna bother checking the final numbers, they were bad against an elite team. To wit, Shannon Hogan asked Barry Trotz how he’d grade the Isles’ performance tonight: “It was an absolute ‘F.’”
It’s gonna happen from time to time and they just gotta move on and play better tomorrow. That’s the way it goes. But tonight’s game was definitely not worth staying up for. Time for bed.
P.S. They play the Flames again next Tuesday night at the Coliseum. Hopefully they remember they have a game that night — can’t forget things like that against a team like Calgary.
The Islanders visit the Oilers, whom they beat 5-2 at Barclays Center this past Saturday night, tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. ET. I’ll be back here for that one as well, unfortunately for all of you.