written by Kevin Schultz
9:39pm: Per the MSG broadcast, the Islanders have their first five-game points streak of the season. With a win on a snowy night in an empty building consisting of a lot of opposition fans, they played well (minus the second period) and earned a 4-1 win. For the second time this week, the Islanders beat a division leader. James Wisniewski records two points to take the team lead in that category with 21 and, tell me if you’ve heard this one before, Dwayne Roloson has another outstanding game.
The announced attendance at the Coliseum tonight was 3,136 and for those of you in the tri-state area, all you have to do is look outside to figure out why. A majority of those in attendance were Canadiens fans who were riled up at the start and quickly faded early in the third when the Isles scored twice on the power play.
The turning point in the game was when Max Pacioretty drove Mark Eaton into the boards with an obvious hit from behind. Pacioretty got a 5-minute major and was ejected. Eaton would go off quickly under his own power and returned later. PA Parenteau scored almost immediately and James Wisniewski would add another goal later on man advantage to make it a full-on 4-0 blowout. The Habs would add one later to break the shutout but it that was all the harm it did.
One down note was the second period where the Islanders were out shot and out skated, 16-7. You can thank Dwyane Roloson and Carey Price for keeping the Islanders in the lead. Up 1-0 after playing a nice first period, the team didn’t have the same energy in the second. Roloson made save after save and Price and his teammates had a few key giveaways in their own zone. After a few misplays, Frans Nielsen fed Michael Grabner on the break and the Islanders finally capitalized on a big giveaway. Suddenly, a so-so period turned into a 2-0 lead heading into the intermission. That swung the momentum and at a key point. It could have been 1-1 or worse with the Islanders not feeling so great after the effort going into the third. Instead, Grabner made a nice finish and they had confidence going into the final frame. They came out firing in the third and took full advantage of the opportunities given to them by the zebras.
Attendance: 3,136 was the announced number after a state of emergency was declared in Nassau County but with everyone (read: players and officials) already at the arena, the NHL insisted to play on. Logistically, it makes sense. Otherwise, it really doesn’t make a whole lot. The Islanders made a nice gesture by allowing all fans to move down and are offering a ticket to a future home game for unused blizzard tickets. For comparison, there was a shade over 5,000 in attendance in New Jersey tonight. Not a good night to host a sporting event in the tri-state area.
The Kids: If you were watching the World Juniors, you saw El Nino pick up a goal and an assist and Calvin DeHaan add a helper today.
Habs Invasion: As with almost any Canadiens game at the Coliseum their fans invaded. After a goal was reviewed and waved off in the second, a weird 50/50 half cheer, half boo came up from the mixed crowd. Good for the team for fighting through the odd atmosphere and getting the ‘W’.
Tweets of the Night: I had a great time talking to those of you who joined me on Twitter. Here’s my favorite response of the night:
@Schultz88: MSG’s above glass robot cam thinks for itself :-0 #Robopocalypse
@Schultz88: I think it just transformed into Scott Gomez
@TedStarkey: So, the Rangers just signed it to a seven-year deal for $8M per?
Useless Fact of the Night: The Islanders are now 10-1-2 all-time the day after Christmas. You have to go back to 1985 when they lost to the Whalers to find their last, and only, loss. From now on, I’ll leave the stats to the stat guys. Isles Stat Man Eric Hornick informs me that NYI are 16-7-2 on 12/26 (34 pts more than any other day).”
5:45pm: It was almost exactly a year ago on December 19th – OK, that’s off by about a week – that the Montreal Canadiens and a couple thousand of their fans invaded the Nassau Coliseum during a Long Island blizzard. Tonight, the Canadiens and their faithful are in town yet again and there’s another storm poised to slam Long Island into the night and the next morning. Predictions of well over a foot in many places. Weird how things work out sometimes.
The Islanders will now play host to their second French Canadian crowd in a month, although this one won’t be nearly as friendly as the last one (I mean really, how nice were the majority of those Nordiques?). More importantly, the Isles have points in their last four games and wins in three of those. On the other side, the Canadiens have lost five of seven but still lead the Northeast Division. Neither team has played since Thursday, so they’ll be rested and we’ll see what they’re made out of.
Roster Notes: Matt Martin back from suspension, Jesse Joensuu back to the Bridge. Moulson cleared to play and Roloson to start in net.
Ticket Exchange: The Islanders have already announced that fans not attending tonight can exchange their ticket for a future date. Kudos to them on the pre-emptive move.
Twitter: I won’t be updating Point Blank until after the game. Follow the action along with me on Twitter @schultz88.
Comments: No purchase necessary. Standard rules apply. Please leave your game predictions and blizzard stories here. I’m going with 3-2 Islanders in a SO. Let’s hear it for positivity!