Keith Quinn, Islanders Point Blank:
It was a game that saw a few lead changes, some adversity, and some banged up Islanders including tonight’s starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, but they were able to outlast and outskate a Red Wings team playing back to back games and traveling late. Nabokov looked to be in significant discomfort and early reports were a groin of unknown severity that occurred on the Red Wings first shot/first goal of the game. Those groins are tricky for players, so one can assume he will miss some time…so Kevin Poulin will probably be the starter for the near future.
But the most notable fact of this game, was the Islanders keeping up their attack in the third period even with the lead. Over the third and in overtime, they outshot the Wings 21-5. And though the results didn’t necessarily come and they conceded a late, tying goal, that is generally how you want to close out a game.
The Islanders got the better of play early on (in spite of the black uniform). The first line had some significant pressure on their first shift, and later, Casey Cizikas was denied on a partial breakaway. The Isles got on the board first on a seemingly harmless point shot from Josh Bailey that Tavares was able to tip past Wings goaltender Jonas Gustavsson.
But in what was the theme of the night, that lead was short lived. Nine (9!) seconds later, off the ensuing faceoff, inexplicably and inexcusably, the Red Wings came in on a 2 on 0 leaving Aaron Ness, Matt Carkner and Tavares in their wake. Darren Helm tucked the puck past Evgeni Nabokov in the play that injured his lower body.
Detroit took the lead late in the second when hockey wizard Pavel Datsyuk made an unbelievable, reaching, torso-high tip in of a Mikael Samuelsson shot on the power play. Thankfully, that was the only Detroit power play on the evening because the Isles penalty kill continues to struggle with no solution in sight.
The second period was relatively evenly played and cautious until late in the period. Casey Cizikas notched a goal in his second consecutive game and it was the exact same ‘cut across the crease and backhand’ goal as he had against the Kings on Thursday. It doesn’t even bear mentioning that the goal tied the game, because Detroit answered quickly again (33 seconds this time) when Johan Franzen took a pass from Darren Helm, cut across the circles left to right, and fired a wrist shot back to Kevin Poulin’s left through a screen.
Just a a few seconds later though, the Wings got penalty happy…and the Isles struck again. This time, it was Brock Nelson, who looks more and more impressive every game and appears to have moved into Matt Moulson’s office. Thomas Vanek should be returning soon, but Nelson may make the decision to put him back on Tavares’ left wing again difficult. The late goal tied things at three with 49.5 left.
Johan Franzen took a double-minor high stick at the 19:38 mark and that helped to get the Isles off to a good start in the third.
The Isles poured it on in the third. Nelson had a couple of point blank chances on the power play and intercepted a clearing attempt and had a backhander stopped. Frans Nielsen had a partial break slap shot snared by Gustavsson who was locked in during the Wings PK. The Isles had nine shots on the Franzen double minor and were outshooting the Wings 8-0 in the third by the expiration of the penalty.
At the 4:43 mark, the Isles finally regained the lead when Pierre-Marc Bouchard tipped home a point shot from Aaron Ness. And this time, the Isles were able to continue to control play. At least for a while. The fourth line had an epic forechecking shift (about 25 seconds worth *unofficial measurement) that ended with a good Colin McDonald chance that was saved by Gustavsson.
But the unfortunate thing is that the Red Wings have Datsyuk, and he is good at hockey. So, at 19:17, he was able to score the game tying goal on roughly Detroit’s third shot of the period and with the extra skater. It was a backhander that deflected in off of Andrew MacDonald who was lying in the crease after some grappling with Todd Bertuzzi.
In the overtime, the Isles got good chances from Michael Grabner, Nelson, and Hamonic who drew a hooking penalty on a partial break. That power play helped the Isles to control the pace to the tune of a 6-1 shots advantage in the extra frame and Hamonic and Tavares almost connected on a last second rush, but alas, nobody scored, so gimmick hockey ensued.
Frans Nielsen was the only player to score in the skills competition going back to his forehand, backhand top-shelf (Danish Backhand of Judgment) move against an out-of-division lesser known opponent, and there was much rejoicing and cheering and the like.
- Here are your fancystats for tonight’s game. They are very good, and the Islanders should seriously consider replicating them as much as possible.
- Tavares led the Isles in ice time with 23:09. Second was Nelson with 23:02. Here is a rookie, hanging with an all-star for a couple of games in a row and looking good with eyes and stats. Just think, last week, sometimes he couldn’t get time on the third or fourth line and tonight, he had 7 shots and was 3rd star. Let’s hope that mistake doesn’t happen too often.
- Not that he’s been playing well, but it’s difficult to think about the alternatives if Nabokov is to miss any significant time. Anders Nilsson is struggling in Bridgeport, so the Isles may need to make a deal for an additional goaltender. They probably should looking at a potential starter and if Poulin can keep the job, that’s a good problem to have.
- The Isles finally did better with the faceoffs with Detroit winning 29 to the Isles 28.
- Andrew MacDonald cracked the 30 minute mark tonight. I saw a graphic about Ryan Suter yesterday being the league leader…and Amac was third. That’s a lot of ice time.
- Man I like this
inter-conference home and home thingrealignment (h/t to the helpful comment section) and being able to watch guys like Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Two guys that are just really complete players who do everything in all situations. But also, I like the inter-conference home and home thing…for other teams that you don’t get to see too often
- At points tonight, Clutterbuck, Cizikas, and several others (possibly Martin) also appeared to be banged up, and took some heavy hits and they still kept coming. Those are the types of efforts we need to see more of. The crowd at the coliseum noticed and approved to loud ovations throughout the night. Good to hear.
- John Tavares is now tied for second among the NHL scoring leaders. What’s really annoying is that Steen jumped ahead of Tavares and Crosby while I was typing.