This is more like it.
The Islanders put together a 60 minute game of dominance and had the 5-1 score to show for it. They got contributions from 12 different players and all four lines (although Okposo’s point came while he was out with Tavares and Moulson). The defense was rock solid, and The Big Cubano was again a brick wall in net. (Not that he was tremendously challenged)
This was a night of firsts, milestones and streaks continued.
Despite initial Islanders’ pressure, things looked to get off to a rocky start as it was Montoya’s turn to give up a goal on the first shot he faced. Martin St. Louis would notch his 800th career point off a beautiful deflection of a Brett Clark point shot that would find it’s way down and through Montoya’s pads. He actually had perfect positioning on the goal, and how St. Louis stood there untouched and unnoticed was baffling.
Too many times this year, the Isles would have been deflated by the early marker, but tonight, they roared back late in the period. John Tavares picked up his 9th of the year off of some excellent board work from Kyle Okposo to dig the puck out to Moulson off to Mathieu Garon’s left. Moulson found an open Tavares who sniped the puck over Garon’s glove from right in front even with the faceoff dot. It was Tavares’ first goal in 13 games.
Four minutes later, a tremendous forecheck by Tim Wallace and Matt Martin would give the Isles the lead for good. Wallace found himself behind the net and fed Martin who was crashing and tapped it home. It was Wallace’s first point in 24 NHL games but he is 1 for 1 as an Islander. He was leading Bridgeport in scoring prior to the call-up.
The third goal of the period was a power play goal and started with Josh Bailey who didn’t figure in the scoring because there was too much tic-tac-toe ness going on. Bailey cruised into the Lightning zone along the boards to Garon’s right, pulled up and dished to Mark Streit coming down the middle. Streit fed Frans Nielsen in the right circle who found Milan Jurcina streaking in from his point position at the left post for a tap in goal.
The second saw no scoring, but Tampa came out flying and generated a lot of early pressure the Isles fended off. They were able to generate three power plays in the period though as they continued to skate aggressively and give the Lightning fits in front of their net. At one point, Garon deliberately knocked the net off the moorings because he had dropped his stick. No call was made though and Tampa successfully avoided a 5 on 3 situation. The Isles power play equally looked dominant with puck movement and possession and inept on others tries. On the night though, they would finish 2 of 5 PP opportunities.
The third period however, the Islanders dominance paid off with scoring chances and goals. Early in the period, PA Parenteau was robbed by Garon who came across his crease to make a glove save off a one-timer fed to him by Mark Streit.
But at 3:19, rookie David Ullstrom would get his first NHL goal off of a great set up from Josh Bailey. Bailey picked up the puck just outside the blue line, gained the Lightning zone off to Garon’s right, put his shoulder down and faked a move to the net drawing the Lightning defense. He then dropped the puck behind him where Ullstrom had all day to tee up a slapshot that found it’s way through Garon.
Moulson would cap off the scoring with his 8th goal in his 5 game goal streak and his 14th of the season on a late power play. The broadcast team also indicated that Moulson set a career high with eight shots on goal tonight. It was surprising and I’m sure the Lightning weren’t happy about the Islanders 1st unit being on the ice with such a big lead already, but hey, there were streaks on the line.
- While this was a great win and a huge team effort and dominant performance, the Lightning were on the tail end of back to back games and they now find themselves mired in a five game losing streak.
- The Islanders now have points in six of seven games. (4-1-2) If they can keep that going for a while…
- Almost as importantly as what they did, is who they did it without…namely, their top penalty killer and last year’s leading goal scorer Michael Grabner and last year’s ice time leader Andrew MacDonald. The team is continuing to play well, showing some depth and carry-on in the face of injury…which is important, because there’s usually a lot of injury.
- The broadcast team also noted that the Isles have scored 4 goals in 3 straight games. They may cause a chili shortage.
- I think we’re going to need to start the AL MONTOYA all-start write in push pretty soon…like yesterday. Does he have a chance in a conference with Thomas, Lundqvist, Ward, Miller and Price?
- Josh Bailey had arguably his best night as a pro tonight. He killed penalties with reckless abandon. He went to the net, he made stickhandling moves around and through people, he hit (more than the stat count showed which bothered me terribly), he passed and he shot. If he is this good with confidence, he needs to be given heavy doses of confidence. His play over the last few weeks has been tremendous. Good for the maligned kid.