Keith Quinn, Islanders Point Blank:
Well, the return of injured Islanders Lubomir Visnovski and Evgeni Nabokov didn’t go off as well as we’d hoped. The “Big, Strong”(C) Bruins were just too much for the Isles to handle and pulled away in the early in the third and slammed the doors behind them
The Isles weathered a mighty storm through the first twelve or so minutes as the Bruins made it known that they were not keen on being swept in this season series. Maybe it was game plan or just circumstance, but the Islanders looked to be dumping and chasing a lot early and that led to a heavy shot disparity when Boston retrieved pucks, carried out and back into the Isles end.
The Bruins got on the board first when Loui Eriksson took a Daniel Paille pass behind the goal line to Kevin Poulin’s left and fired it over the goaltender’s shoulder at 7:47 of the first.
By ten minutes in, the shots were 15-2 and it looked like the Isles were going to get run out of their building. Poulin was giving up some meaty rebounds, but most of the Bruins shots, fortunately, weren’t overly threatening.
The Isles turned the momentum with a power play on a Johnny Boychuck interference. The addition of Lubomir Visnovski to the first unit got some chances with Kyle Okposo being stopped on a point blank shot. The second unit also looked much improved with Andrew MacDonald and Calvin deHaan manning the points. Cal Clutterbuck just missed a close in wrist shot and Brock Nelson a tip in and later he lost control of a net cut jam-in at the last second.
Capuano had the line roulette going as well to try to space some scoring. This, the rebirth of Grabner/Nielsen/Okposo which paid immediate dividends.
Frans Nielsen tied the game at 15:29 off a slap-pass from Okposo. Nielsen tipped the puck which was saved by Johnson, but Frans followed it up and was able to lift it over the goaltender.
The next shift was Vanek/Tavares/Clutterbuck, with the fourth line remaining the same and the 3rd as Regin/Nelson/Bailey.
The end of the period saw Zdeno Chara taking a roughing penalty on Clutterbuck, and the NVMC organist trolling Chara.
The second was a bit more wide open and the Isles lost it, tied it, lost it, tied it, lost it. Here’s how.
At the 4:50 mark, Brad Marchand beat a diving Poulin and a flailing MacDonald off a cross-ice feed from Patrice Bergeron. It came off a faceoff win in the Islanders zone.
Three and a half minutes later, the Isles had some extended zone time and Thomas Hickey made a pass to Okposo behind the net from his knees after getting knocked down. Okposo found Grabner in the slot and Grabner released it quickly past Johnson. Okposo was a magician on the shift turning Shawn Thornton inside out along the boards (okay, maybe magician is strong).
Thornton would get some revenge a few minutes later against the Isles 4th line and the uncommon Strait/Carkner defense pairing. A strong cycle by the Bruins drew a delayed penalty and with the extra attacker on, Thornton mad a pinballing cross-ice pass that somehow landed on Reilly Smith’s stick for a tip-in past Poulin.
Okposo and Grabner evened things up again at the 15:08 mark. At the tail end of an Okposo penalty for cross-checking rat-diver Brad Marchand, Grabner sprung himself on a breakaway when he stripped Dougie Hamilton at the point. Okposo joined him for a 2 on 0 out of the box. A couple of cross-crease passes later and Okposo had his 23rd of the season and a tied game.
The Isles squandered a power play drawn by Vanek on a partial breakaway and allowed a late goal to Carl (don’t call me Soderstrom) Soderberg who got around a stumbling Hickey, cut across the crease and deposited the puck in the far side of the net.
The Bruins took penalty at the 20:00 minute mark (Bergeron; Tripping), but as is the Isles, they couldn’t get it going to start the third. It feels like they oftn can’t get power plays going in the beginnings of periods anecdotally, but this one was stagnant.
And almost as soon as the power play was over, the Bruins took the game for good. The fourth line was caught scrambling with Martin making a diving play toward a rebound and almost knocking it in. Then, behind the net, he lost a wall battle, followed by a lost battle by MacDonald, followed by a pass from Marchand to Bergeron in the slot. Clutterbuck lost his battle there and Bergeron fired a wrister past Poulin.
The Bruins really clamped down after that and sloppy Islander hockey ensued. They had difficulty cracking the neutral and offensive zones and completing passes.
The icing on the cake was a weak wrist shot taken by Chara from the blue line which, if left alone, probably would’ve gone wide. But Poulin got a piece of it and deflected it into the net. He was lifted in favor of Nabokov at that point and he faced one shot in the remaining 11:44. And somehow, the Bruins still outshot the Isles on the period, 10-8.
- Andrew MacDonald saw a steep drop in his ice time (18:24) with the insertion of Visnovski (22:08) to the lineup. Calvin deHaan led the D with 22:17.
- The 4th line was a combined -10 tonight. Not sure what happened there. Maybe the matchups were bad, just a bad night or whatever. But that’s not too easy to do with less than 10:00 of even strength ice time. They’ve been Capuano’s apparent shut down or shot blocking line lately, but given some underlying numbers, sometimes these things come back to bite.
- In actuality, this was a team loss though (except for Grabner/Nielsen/Okposo). It’s unfortunate because they did battle for a while, but this was maybe half a game worth. They need to do more.
- Zdeno Chara gained his 500th NHL point tonight on his goal. Thanks Mike!
- The intermission interview with Howie Rose and Kris King was pretty ridiculous. He said about as much as the NHL said with it’s reiteration of the rule. He didn’t clearly define what a “distinct kicking motion” is, chided Kerry Fraser’s response and essentially told us the war room knows best and not to worry. Predictable, expected, annoying.
- The Isles won the faceoff and hits battle tonight, which was surprising and shots on the game were tied.
- The Islanders have won the hits battle with Boston in all three games this season. Once with shots tied, once leading in shots and once losing in shots.