OTTAWA 4 ISLANDERS 3NYI crash into the break with a heartbreaker

Chris Botta on Twitter

 

When the latest in an endless series of topsy-turvy Islanders performances forced me to stop writing a timely postgame entry, I shut off my laptop, departed my press box perch and watched the final minutes in the stands.

 

As the home team’s final gasp at a tying goal came up short and I made my way through the Coliseum stands, the pain among the beautiful faithful was palpable. Tonight was a reminder of how being a New York Islanders fan can often result in having your heart ripped out and stomped on.

 

Scott Gordon said the momentum swung when the Islanders failed to cash in on a 5-on-3 at the start of the third period.

 

Dwayne Roloson: “Unfortunately, we made some mistakes in our own end that wound up in our net.”

 

Andy Sutton on playoff prospects after this brutal setback: “It’s a huge challenge. It’s going to take us being one of the best teams in the NHL for 20 games. We’ve done it before.”

 

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You have to admire the camaraderie. You cannot say these young Islanders don’t enjoy being around each other.

 

Despite the opportunity to spend a week apart after an intense five months together, half the Islanders’ roster is flying to Mexico on Monday for a five-day vacation. Among those scheduled for the trip are Josh Bailey and Frans Nielsen.

 

A few friends from opposing NHL teams are coming as well, including Luke Schenn of Toronto and Maxime Talbot of Pittsburgh. Recent teammate Nate Thompson might be a late addition.

 

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Nielsen. “Our girlfriends are joining us. It’s just one large group with a lot of close friends. We’ll take it easy and just relax and we’ll be ready to hit the ice as soon as we get back.”

 

Kyle Okposo will spend the week back home in Minnesota, as will Jack Hillen. John Tavares is going home for some rest in Ontario.

 

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One more Plus/Minus before the Olympic break as the Islanders cough two points up to Ottawa, 4-3.

 

Minus: If you had the Islanders losing 9 of their last 11 games before the Olympic break – and Martin Biron getting the two victories – you won the lottery.

 

Minus: The first ten minutes of the game looked like Canada (Ottawa) versus Norway (the NYI). The Senators looked bigger, stronger and faster. They actually are all of the above.

 

Plus: And then, looking like a team with a system they can rely on, the Islanders found their legs and it was a different game for the next period and a half.

 

Plus: Blake Comeau with the first two-goal game of his NHL career.

 

Plus: Good things happen when Jesse Joensuu goes to the net and Comeau shoots the puck – especially when they happen simultaneously. A first period that looked liked it could have been the Senators’ ended 1-1.

 

Plus: Oh my, Andrew MacDonald looks like a very good NHL defenseman.

 

Plus: Jack Hillen will be back after the break.

 

Even: Will Andy Sutton? A Blackhawks scout took my vacated press box seat for Saturday’s game and was back tonight. So were scouts from a half-dozen other interested teams.

 

Plus: Dwayne Roloson played in his 500th NHL game. Unless Garth Snow is blown away with a trade offer, expect Roloson to stay an Islander. With so many solid goalies available on the free agent market on July 1, Snow should work a Roloson deal hard. The take-back could be vital to a rebuilding team.

 

Plus: The final 20 games of John Tavares’ rookie season will be a fascinating watch.

 

Minus: Another third period where the Islanders looked behind the pace and without confidence, until the lead was blown.

 

Minus: The concept of team defense often seems lost on these Islanders.

 

Minus: From a team and business perspective, a dreadful way to head into the two-week break.

 

Minus: Now that I’ve done this for a season and three quarters, you’d think I’d wouldn’t be so stupid as to start writing a lot in the second period. Wrong.

 

Minus: A pair of early starts on a holiday weekend. More than 10,000 unused seats.

 

Plus: A well-officiated game by Eric Furlatt and Rob Martell.

 

Plus: Building the game? Overrated. Great exposure for two weeks on NBC? Yeah, we’ll see about that. Winning new fans in non-hockey markets? Yeah, right. The NHL should send its best to the Olympics because these are the best players in the world and they want to be there.

 

Plus: A month ago I wrote that even if the Islanders went on a big losing streak, they would still be in the hunt for the playoffs. Oops, I didn’t see 9 of 11 coming. They enter the Olympic break six points out, with four teams between the Islanders and eighth place Montreal. No matter how you look at it, your team is still in the race with 20 games left in the season. The majority of the Country would have signed up for this in October.

 

Plus: His team still being alive will not stop Garth Snow from doing a little selling.

 

We’ll continue to talk Islanders hockey – and only Islanders hockey – all week. These are the Comment Guidelines.