Point Blank mini-Q & A with Rick DiPietro after the game:
After everything you’ve been through, did you appreciate even getting bumped a few times by the Sabres?
I appreciate everything. I love the contact, the competition, everything. I especially appreciate the guys in this room. They’ve been incredible to me all season. I missed all of this so much. When you’re gone this long, you appreciate everything. The only thing I don’t love are some of Sudsie’s drills.
Roy in the shootout might have been the first time tonight you really had to extend yourself on a save. How did that feel?
Good, but to be honest with you, I was pissed. I had two chances to close out the shootout and missed. I pride myself on finishing games, so that was really disappointing. Thankfully, Hunts backed me up with his goal.
You made a point of thanking the fans in your post-game interview on the ice and were pretty emotional. Tell us about that.
I’ve always appreciated the support of our fans, but after the last two years I appreciate them even more. The Islanders and the fans have been incredible to me since the first day I got here. It had been a while, so I wanted to make sure the fans knew how I felt.
Scott Gordon: “Because it’s Ricky, the first thing he said to me after the game was, ‘I gotta work on the shootouts tomorrow.’ He’s a perfectionist.”
Plus: An important, event-feel game in mid-January.
Plus: Rick DiPietro announces he’s on his way back with a sprawling save on Derek Roy in the shootout. Two goals allowed on 33 shots, an extra-inning victory in the shootout? Yes, the Islanders will take that.
Plus: An emotional DiPietro to the fans after the game: “I can’t tell you how much I love you guys. I appreciate it.”
Plus: Some missed nets, crazy bounces and Ryan Miller’s brilliance aside, the Islanders proved once again they have a pretty darn good hockey team.
Plus: Team defense was solid in front of DiPietro, who did not have to make any spectacular saves in the first 65 minutes.
Plus: John Tavares breaks a nine-game goal drought, which is more like 27 games in JT’s life.
Plus: Mid-first, Kyle Okposo curls over the Buffalo blueline and turns an innocent 2-on-3 into a pair of Sabres hanging on his back and two minutes for hooking on Tim Kennedy. Early in the second, Okposo draws a crosschecking penalty by Tyler Myers. Assist on the first goal, made the play on the goal robbed of Richard Park. Team Canada assistant coach Lindy Ruff has to be laughing that Okposo wasn’t picked by Brian Burke’s, uh, committee.
Minus: A pair of momentum-draining power plays by the Islanders in the second half of the first period.
Plus: Would you sign up right now for Aaron Ness in four years being as good as Jack Hillen? Yes, you absolutely would.
Plus: Mark Streit looking the last week like vintage 2008-09 Mark Streit.
Plus: Jon Sim with another filthy, yappy, effective hockey game.
Plus: Everybody not associated with the Sabres hates Patrick Kaleta. Let’s see how many teams hate him when he’s a UFA in a few years.
Plus: Considering he throws the same punishing bodycheck in the same spot every time, you’d figure the Sabres would have started to see Andy Sutton coming after the first two.
Plus: Ruff was right – the Islanders do flash some skill. Finishing was a problem, but the Islanders displayed some eye-popping playmaking. In the case of the Andrew MacDonald’s shot-pass to Sean Bergenheim, they completed the job.
Minus: Before Roger Luce even announced Bergenheim’s goal, Buffalo made it 2-1 when Mike Grier deflected a Tim Connolly shot past DiPietro. Connolly now has an 11-game point streak (5+11), the current longest in the NHL.
Minus: A referee wanting to insert himself in the game costs the Islanders a goal to make it 3-1 with 13 minutes left. Guys, it’s 11 years too late to make up for Brett Hull being in the crease.
Plus: “There’s a penalty on the ice” replaced, thankfully, by the brief call of “penalty.”
Plus: Stat from the Sabres – Since Ruff was named Buffalo’s head coach on July 21, 1997, there have been 150 coaching changes in the NHL.
Plus: Islanders host an Open Practice for all fans on Sunday at the Coliseum. Doors open at 10:45 am. Practice starts at 11:00. Rob Schremp Skills Show at noon. Just kidding about that last part, although you never know. Enjoy.
Your Plus/Minus and thoughts on the game.