Despite appearances in the box score, this game had vast stretches of uninspired and downright fumbling play save for a few individual efforts and a two-minutes hate on Ilya Bryzgalov’s club record shutout streak late in the third. Making it look good in the papers will not undo what was done to the eyes though.
The Flyers got on the board first when
sniper dangler legend Zac Rinaldo (Couturier, Grossmann) chipped the puck into the corner to Evgeni Nabokov’s right, retrieved it and floated a bad angle, goal line shot for a very soft goal.
From there, the Islanders could do no right.
Scoring chances became scarce (despite a heavy shot disparity in the Isles favor…most were non-threatening) and the Flyers dictated the pace the rest of the way until late in the third.
Claude Giroux (Jagr, Hartnell) would extend the Flyers lead off of some great work by crafty old veteran Jaromir Jagr who outmuscled Mark Streit in the left corner and found Giroux very lonely in the slot. Dylan Reese seemed to be caught in no-man’s land on the play, but the key was Jagr winning the puck battle.
Matt Martin did what he could to spark the team hitting everyone in sight and gaining a pretty nice decision on Wayne Simmonds in an early second period fight after Simonds took exception to a hit on a teammate. Hockeyfights.com hasn’t updated in a few days, but here is the link to the fight log for when it does. Unfortunately, the spark didn’t take.
Scott Hartnell (Timonen, Giroux) gave the Flyers the usually worst/unsafe lead in hockey (3-0) at 7:02 of the second after Andrew MacDonald got caught pinching. Giroux poked the puck up to Amac’s vacated area and Hartnell was able to elude Travis Hamonic rushing over to cover and beat Nabokov with high glove wrist shot.
The Islanders would go on to squander late period back to back power plays and take the deficit late into the third. At 13:30, Frans Nielsen won an offensive zone faceoff back to Reeese who crossed to Streit. Streit fired wide of the net, but Michael Grabner was able to get some
wood graphite on it and poke it past Bryzgalov ending his shutout streak at 249:43 or, 69:43 minutes longer than all Islanders goaltenders combined on the season. (Look at these last 6 games)
The Islanders struck again quickly (at 14:05) when John Tavares (Streit) stood his ground at the top of the crease to bang home a wonderful Mark Streit effort. Streit got the puck at the point, put a spin move on a defender and came down the boards to Bryzgalov’s left. He faked inside and toe dragged around a second, then bull rushed toward the net, pulled up, drew the defense, took a hit, and dished a perfect pass. A truly beautiful play on a night full of ugly.
The Isles continued to rally, but it was too little, too late. This is a season of can’t get it right. Can’t hold a lead, can’t completely come back from a deficit. Goaltending good, offense dead, defense great, goaltending bad, or any combination of good/bad by one position or another. You name it, the bad has won out. The shame of it is that in those two minutes tonight, they were fun, exciting, and gave you hope…they just can’t keep it going for long enough stretches yet. Let’s hope they can develop that.
- According to the broadcast, JT91 was on the ice for the entire last 2:18 of the third tonight. I can appreciate the competitive nature of the kid, really I can, but let’s not get him hurt here. Isn’t that why Jack called a timeout against the Red Wings? The playoff dream is pretty well over, don’t risk injury to ruin draft status.
- Bright note on JT, he has a four game point streak and cracked 70 points on the season. The last Islander to do so was Alexei Yashin in 2001-2002.
- Strange report; some on twitter have noted that JT91 took the clipboard from the coaches on the bench and diagrammed the last second faceoff set play during the Islanders timeout. I’m not sure if that’s a sign of hockey smarts and leadership by the kid, or an indictment of the coaching staff.
- Curmudgeon referee Stephane Auger took an errant Andrew MacDonald stick to the face which bloodied him and sent him off for repairs, but he would return to the game later.
- Capuano face tells you just about all you need to know about tonight’s game.
- It’s beginning to look a lot like draft-mas. (If you say that like the Christmas carol, it helps.)