Kevin SchultzThe jury is still out on whether or not Kevin Poulin should be the Islanders’ full time starter, but tonight he certainly made a case for getting more playing time in the near future. Poulin stopped 32 of 33 Predators shots, upping his save percentage on the year (warning: small sample size) to .920. His numbers are even better over the last four games, but condensing an already small sample size isn’t exactly fair.
Poulin didn’t have a lot of work in the first period, as Nashville managed 10 shots on goal in only 12 shot attempts. But down the stretch, especially when the Preds came out of the gate strong in the third period, he was up to the task. The lone Nashville goal came with about 6 minutes to go in the game, as Patric Hornqvist put one through his five-hole. At that point, the two goal lead was still enough to stand.
While the young netminder played well and got the Coliseum crowd behind him, there’s at least a little grain of salt to be taken with it as Nashville has really been struggling for offense in recent games. Including tonight, they’ve scored only one goal in the last three games, as Hornqvist’s goal broke a long scoring drought.
Nonetheless, he should get the start on Thursday night as the hot hand in net.
An interesting wrinkle tonight was Nelson on the first line with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo for the second straight night. He also added six minutes of ice time on the first power play unit to total more than 18 minutes for the game, second among Islanders forwards. Nelson looked right at home next to Tavares and Okposo, and even left a nifty drop pass for Tavares on Okposo’s goal.
It’s kind of crazy to even think about Nelson staying in that spot when Thomas Vanek is ready to go but stranger things have happened. That also sort of defeats the point of getting Vanek. I don’t know. Interesting to think about. Certainly good to see young players playing important roles and doing it well.
Islanders Power Play
The Islanders power play is sponsored by the New York Lottery on MSG, which is totally perfect because the Lottery’s slogan is “hey, you never know [they might score].”
After going 2-for-4 in Montreal on Sunday, the power play cashed in again tonight when John Tavares was left totally wide open in front of a third-string goaltender. The ending to that was a foregone conclusion.
Overall though, the power play still could have been a bit better. They managed six shots on five power plays.
Closing Out at Home
There was a bit of a tense moment late in the game after Hornqvist got Nashville on the board. Aaron Ness took a hooking penalty with 2:20 to go and Barry Trotz pulled his goalie to give the Preds a 6-on-4, but nothing came of it. The Islanders just barely missed the empty net two or three times. There was also one made scramble that had Ness sticking to the post like a soccer defender on a corner kick as Poulin was caught out of position.
The MSG broadcast added shot attempts (Corsi, basically) to their post-game stat sheet and Howie Rose mentioned it a few times during the broadcast, almost as casually as he would mention shots on goal. Score one for the internet and the progressive folks at MSG.
Also: Cal Clutterbuck appeared a bit shaken up on the bench, maybe feeling the “upper body injury” that had kept him out a few games. Clutterbuck did stay in and played the whole game… John Tavares also limped off at one point after taking a hard spill into the boards courtesy of the Coliseum ice. He finished the game and appeared to be fine, maybe just a bit sore in the morning. With two points tonight, he is on pace for a career high 95 points this season… Kirill Kabanov has been recalled to Bridgeport from Stockton…