Keith Quinn, Islanders Point Blank:
After a mind numbing first forty minutes that saw the Isles down 3-0 against the struggling Canucks (2-7-1 in their last 10), the Islanders stormed back to the tune of se7en third period goals. The Isles took bad penalties, were out-possessed and the PK looked poor going 2/4. Luckily they didn’t take a penalty after the midway point of the second. Because given the last bunch of games, you expected the worst.
The seven goals tied a franchise record previously set against the Rangers in 1978 according to Elias/ESPN. Frans Nielsen reached the 20 goal milestone for the first time in his career on a wrist shot that gave the Isles a temporary 4-3 lead. Josh Bailey scored for the first time in 13 games, the power play was effective (3/7) tying the franchise record for PP goals in a period with three and seven different goal scorers lit the lamp. It was a period binge the likes of which we’ve not seen in some time. If only they could spread it out some.
About the only problem with this game (and hopefully it’s not a significant one) is that Michael Grabner left with an upper body injury and didn’t return. According to Arthur Staple, he will be evaluated when the Isles return home.
Tonight, we’re going to embed the highlights:
Vancouver took the lead on the Isles at 15:26 of the first during a power play for a Matt Donovan holding call. Christopher Higgins corralled a Yannick Weber point shot that ricocheted off the post and backhanded it over a sprawling Evgeni Nabokov. The Isles took three obstruction penalties in the period (two holding the stick) helping Vancouver to outshoot the Isles 11-6 on the period, but the Isles did have a couple of solid chances.
Then, as they have been doing lately, things got worse.
Henrik Sedin extended the Canucks lead after taking a pass behind the Isles net and outmuscling Lubomir Visnovsky to the right side of Nabokov. He turned and fired a shot across the crease that was pushed in by Cal Clutterbuck who had been bumped down by Kevin Bieksa. It was the first goal in 23 games for Sedin. The assist to Nicklas Jensen was his first NHL point.
Brock Nelson took a tripping penalty at 7:30 and at 8:53, the Isles gave up a goal at 8:53. Kevin Bieksa’s point shot was saved, but the rebound was banged off the post by Alexandre Burrows and put in by Ryan Kesler on the backhand.
Thirteen minutes into the period, the Isles had but one shot. They closed the gap to 8-7 toward at the end of the period, but really there was only one good chance; a Kyle Okposo wrist shot from between the circles that was handled pretty easily by Eddie Lack.
It was a pretty uninspiring and non-threatening period all around. But the Canucks left the Isles carry-over power play to begin the third which opened up the floodgates.
The power play started off the third looking generally poor with the Isles getting hemmed in initially and Travis Hamonic taking a heavy hit and going face first into the dasher.
Josh Bailey’s power play goal came on the heels of that hem-in though off a beautiful cross-ice feed from Matt Donovan. (Note: NHL.com is listing Brock Nelson as the primary assist. He may have tipped Donovan’s cross-ice pass) Then, inexplicably, Nicklas Jensen, who committed the previous penalty, took a holding call. To make matters worse for Vancouver, Kevin Bieksa was judged to have taken the net off it’s moorings purposely to deny an Isles scoring chance about 40 seconds later. The Isles used their timeout to draw up something for the 5 on 3, and it worked beautifully (*probably…who can be sure).
Ryan Strome got the next one off a Kyle Okposo feed to him down low with Anders Lee creating a huge disturbance in front of Lack. It was a snipe off a bad angle. Then on the 5 on 4, Calvin deHaan took a wrist shot that deflected off of Shawn Mathias up near the top of the circles and past Lack. If you remember, Mathias killed the Isles with 2g, 1a last week as a member of the Panthers helping to key a comeback.
All told, the Isles scored those three goals in a span of 2:23
Tom Sestito got to running around a bit and he boarded Colin McDonald and had to sit in time out for a couple of minutes. At least I imagine that’s how they explained it to him. Anyway, Frans Nielsen came one second shy of scoring on the PP and setting the Isles franchise record for PP goals in a period.
The play was made possible after the Isles faced a shorthanded scare in their end. But Anders Lee broke out and dished to Okposo and Lee crashed the net. Okposo carried in, fired a wrister and that deflected off Lee, went to Nielsen who shot through the Lee screen. That gave the Isles their first lead.
Chris Tanev answered for the Canucks a little over three minutes later off a wrist shot that may have been helped along by a screen from Thomas Hickey. Nabokov didn’t appear to ever see it.
Unlikely goal scorer Matt Martin got it back ten seconds later when Lack left a puck behind his net that Colin McDonald swooped in for. McDonald centered to Martin from behind the goal line and he backhanded it home. It would prove to be the game winner.
Anders Lee added some insurance with a brilliant, heisman trophy-style, stiff arm, bull rush up the right wing boards. He fired a one handed pass to Nielsen who was robbed by Lack. The rebound went to Okposo who was robbed by the glove of Dan Hamhuis and that deflection landed on the stick of Lee who continued to a soft spot in the area to sweep it home. If there is one goal of the night you should re-watch, it’s this one.
Cal Clutterbuck added an empty-netter for the busy third to seal it up.
While it doesn’t do much to change the bad luck and chaos of the last few weeks (trades, blown leads, injuries), at least there is a game like this every now and then.
And I only have one noticing on the night. Anders Lee is a beast in front of the opposition’s net. Hard to move, quick hands and that’s something we haven’t seen in a good long time.