ISLANDERS 5 DEVILS 4 (OT) Isles win rare firewagon game with Jersey rivals

Keith Quinn , Islanders Point Blank:

It looked like a typical Islander/Devil game early, but goals were scored, leads were blown and the Isles annihilated their “one goal” jinx when facing the Devils (having scored 1 in their last five games).

The broadcast team referenced the Isles early season special teams success (19/20 on the penalty kill, 4/9 on the power play) and the special teams continue to be the story early on.

The Isles only managed one shot through the first 11 minutes of play, but they were able to draw a power play at 13:51 when Andy Greene interfered with Casey Cizikas.  The Isles red-hot first unit got the first goal of the game when Frans Nielsen found Brad Boyes all alone in front.  As two Devils converged on him, he found a vacated John Tavares off to Brodeur’s left for his third of the season.

Eric Boulton, in for the suspended Colin McDonald, had a heavy handed bout with Krys Barch 2:53 into the first that looked to be in his favor.  There didn’t appear to be any momentum gathered by either team though because were few, possessions were sloppy and neutral zones were clogged up.

But as we all know, leads come and go.  Keith Aucoin would extend the Isles lead to 2-0 on a power play goal (his 4th of the season) off a pretty feed from Travis Hamonic just 2:41 into the second period. The play started with the usually sure handed Brodeur flubbing a clearing attempt.

About 30 seconds later, the Devils would trim that lead off a pinballing firedrill play. The puck was shot in by the Devils’ defenseman and tipped on the way in, banged off the side post and on to the stick of Steve Bernier.  The Devils would tie the game three minutes later when some lackadaisical defensive coverage from the Isles shutdown pair of Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald couldn’t catch up with Ryan Carter.

The Isles re-gained their lead off a broken play where Mark Streit was caught pinching a bit and the Devils got a great scoring chance that Nabokov fought off.  The puck landed on Matt Moulson’s stick and he quickly vacated the defensive zone.  The puck managed to find Tavares in the neutral zone and put him on a partial breakaway.  He was able to fight through a Bryce Salvador hug and get around Brodeur (who played a poor angle) for his second of the game.

The Devils fought back again though when the Islanders missed a line change…badly.

The second unit came on for the last 33 seconds of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Patrik Elias.  They played that out, and instead of getting the puck deep at one point and changing (about 50 seconds into the shift), they lost possession and were hemmed into their own zone for an additional 1:10 where the Devils ran them roughshod.  The total time of the shift was about two minutes, the Isles were gassed, equipment was strewn about and the score was tied (on Henrik Tallinder’s first of the season).

Kyle  Okposo was taken off the first line according to Artur Staple,  for a failed clear, but was returned to start the third period.

The third period saw another lead/comeback scenario.  Casey Cizikas was the Isles hardest working man of the period with an intense penalty kill and a forecheck with linemate David Ullstrom that led to a goal by Mark Streit.  Streit fired a low shot that was deflected past Brodeur by Adam Larsson.

The Devils answered again within two minutes when both Brian Strait and Mark Streit converged on David Clarkson off to Nabokov’s right. The puck trickled across the slot to a very lonely Adam Henrique for his first goal of the season in his first game since returning from thumb surgery.

One of the strangest sequences of the night came at the end of the third when yet another Kyle Okposo turnover at the offensive blue line led to the Isles being called for too many men…which is an understatement considering they had a baseball team out on the ice.  Literally, nine men were on the ice.  I was forced to watch the Devils broadcast due to MSG+2 difficulties and Chico Resch was incredulous…he had never seen that many men out there.

The Islanders penalty killers did the job again into overtime.  The Devils Tallinder took a cross check penalty in the overtime period and the Isles power play connected yet again as Brad Boyes was able to pot the game winner of a mad scramble in the Devils crease.

The power play finished the night 3/4 and is looking more dangerous than any time in recent memory.  We can expect some regression of course, but hopefully not too soon.

Noticings:

  • Kyle Okposo has not looked good.  Coach Jack Capuano alluded to some lineup changes last week stating that the first line needs to take care of the puck or “that line will be no more”.  Well, he would probably have to be crazy to break up Moulson/Tavares, so you can assume he was talking about Kyle. He pulled the trigger for a couple of shifts, but will he do it longer?  Especially after another couple of turnovers after the move? Time will tell, but Okposo needs to work some kinks out of his game.  He looks tense out there and more importantly, the decision making and timing are off.
  • Casey Cizikas has some energy on the penalty kill and forecheck.  It was nice to see decent ice time tonight and create some chaos.  He belongs in this lineup.
  • The Islanders are averaging 3.9 goals per game.  Secondary and tertiary scoring at this point.
  • The goals against though….
  • 3-1-1 on the road?  Are you kidding me?
  • Okay, it’s early, and we’ve been teased before, but they are playing some heavy hitters pretty well right now.  Staying consistent and getting a little more 5 on 5 scoring and this team may be able to take a significant step this season.
  • I’m 3-0 as your recapper this season.  FIER KEVIN SCHULTZ!!!11