Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:Andrew MacDonald and Thomas Vanek could be on their way out of Long Island, but for right now they’re still helping the Islanders on the ice.
Tonight in Washington the Islanders won with a single goal — the first time they’ve done that this season — and it came off of Andrew MacDonald’s stick. AMac had a seeing-eye shot from the point get through Colin McDonald, a Caps defender and goalie Michal Neuvirth. And it would be all the Islanders needed to down the high-scoring Caps on their home ice.
For Vanek, he didn’t find the scoresheet, but still registered three shots, a breakaway and some nice setups for his teammates.
Tonight’s win moves the Islanders to 10 back in the Eastern playoff race, still a mountain to climb. That means the Isles are likely to be sellers and the much talked about Vanek and less talked about but valuable MacDonald could easily be in different color jerseys in the coming weeks. For now, they helped the Islanders secure two points.
Discipline for Martin?
Late in the second, Matt Martin took a boarding penalty that was talked up as dangerous by the NBCSN crew but, I’m not so sure. Here is it courtesy of Japers Rink:
At full speed — and maybe a bit accelerated — it doesn’t look great as Orlov’s head goes towards the boards. I’m just not sure it’s a suspendable hit. It’s not particularly egregious and, well, Martin almost goes head first into the boards too. It seems more an awkward collision than anything else. Maybe I’m being lenient.
And there was another somewhat controversial play at the very end of the period. Thomas Vanek was clear in on goal on a breakaway and Connor Carrick, who was chasing him, took a holding call on what probably should have been a penalty shot.
The Islanders did get their penalty shot, though. After MacDonald scored in the third to give them the lead, Michael Grabner had a clear breakaway and was disrupted from getting off a good chance. He’d be awarded a penalty shot and couldn’t convert. Which leads me to another point, Caps netminder Michal Neuvirth had quite a good game. Neuvirth made some solid stops on Thomas Vanek as well as the aforementioned Grabner. Most impressive was going post-to-post when Vanek cross-iced a pass to Kyle Okposo. Neuvirth stretched his left pad across and stoned Okposo on the rush.
On the other end of the ice, Evgeni Nabokov played well although didn’t seem to be tested quite as much as Neuvirth. By the time the Capitals went on the powerplay with about three minutes to go, Nabokov had faced only 20 shots. To his credit he stopped them all, but also credit to the Isles defenders for helping to allow so few.
Next up for the Islanders are two home games before the Olympic Break; Calgary on Thursday and Colorado on Saturday.