The Islanders attempted to pull even in the third period with two quick goals, but eventually the Penguins dashed their hopes, beating them 4-2 at Nassau Coliseum.
- Brett Gallant has signed an entry-level deal with the Isles, good for one year. The third-year Sound Tiger is third in the AHL in penalty minutes with 174.
- Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma had some nice things to say about the Isles earlier today, according to the Pens’ Twitter.
- Oh yeah… there’s a game tonight.
The Penguins are looking for some redemption after losing to the Isles 4-1 last week. Since that loss, they’ve been on a tear, winning three straight and outscoring their opponents (the Rangers, the Devils and Washington) 14-4. Yowza.
While the Pens did manage to double up the Capitals on Sunday, they had let a 3-1 lead slip away prior to a Chris Kunitz hat trick. Playing on Sidney Crosby’s wing has definitely sparked Kunitz’s game (as it should); he has seven points in his last two games.
Meanwhile, the Isles are tweaking some things. We’re finally going to get a sustained look at Brad Boyes on the top line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson, as Kyle Okposo is demoted to the second line. Eric Boulton’s a scratch tonight, as Colin McDonald returns from suspension and bumps Casey Cizikas back down to fourth-line wing. And Joe Finley is still out of the lineup, while Radek Martinek is on IR (my reaction: LOL ARE YOU SERIOUS HE HASN’T EVEN PLAYED A GAME… oh, right. Visnovsky’s coming.).
In goal, it’ll be Marc-Andre Fleury, who had a miserable outing last time, against Penguin killer Evgeni Nabokov. (PETA, please don’t come after me for that one. I don’t mean those penguins.)
That’s about it from me. I’m looking forward to actually being able to watch this one on Gamecenter! Enjoy.
Winger Colin McDonald is set to have a disciplinary hearing with the NHL’s senior vice president of player safety, Brendan Shanahan, regarding his hit on Ben Lovejoy late in the second period of last night’s game in Pittsburgh.
McDonald skated in on Lovejoy and hit him from behind, pushing his head into the boards. Lovejoy would get up and remain in the game, but McDonald received a five-minute major and game misconduct for the board.
Here’s what the hit looked like. It definitely wasn’t a good play:
Two points: 1. Regardless of whether the play led to a goal or not, where was this response when Dion Phaneuf hit John Tavares? 2. I’m surprised no one on the Pens thought to retaliate… are things changing in Pittsburgh? Odd.
UPDATE 5:34 P.M.: You may have heard by now, but McDonald received a two-game suspension.
Once again, four different Islanders scored to mount a hefty lead, this time against the Pittsburgh Penguins. This time, though, the lead would stick. New York pulled out an impressive 4-1 win at Consol Energy Center, silencing the home crowd and stunning their Atlantic Division rivals with a three-goal second period.
Part Four of the five-part road saga for the Islanders unfolds tonight at the Consol Energy Center.
What You Should Know: First, this game is going to be nationally televised — NBC Sports Network — so don’t go looking for this game on MSG+. Second, thankfully, Pierre McGuire will not be in his office between the benches during the telecast, so you can all rest assured (though Lighthouse Hockey reports they found a super special list of his game notes on the Isles players… shhhh). Check out this interesting piece on the Isles’ zone entries and why they’re important, also from LHH.
Last night was a flurry of activity around the hockey blog- and media-osphere as official schedules were released, including the Islanders’.
Yesterday, the NHL season would have started. Eight teams would have played one game already — Ottawa, Montreal, Boston, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Calgary, St. Louis, and Colorado.
The Islanders would have started out of the gate a day late against a team we all love to hate: the Pittsburgh Penguins. A healthy (?) Sidney Crosby, reigning MVP Malkin, and Marc-Andre Fleury (among others) against captain Mark Streit, John Tavares, and Evgeni Nabokov… who knows what could have happened.
Maybe our somewhat tightened defense, equipped with Travis Hamonic, Matt Donovan and Matt Carkner, would have come together and stifled the two-headed beast. Maybe it would look like kids trying to skate on peanut butter. Maybe Nabokov would be the assertive netminder he was in the back half of the season, or maybe he would have been the “eh, I don’t really want to be here” guy who lost a potential starting job to Al Montoya in the front half.
Maybe Johnny would channel Crosby and score four goals. Or maybe he would be held scoreless at a -2. Maybe Brad Boyes would have proven us wrong, or maybe he would have just glided out into no-man’s-land and thrown a couple of weak shots at a bad angle. Maybe the power play would have gotten off to a hot start with its new corps of Boyes, Tavares, Moulson, Streit and Visnovsky. Or maybe the Isles would have taken more penalties than they’d earned.
Maybe Matt Martin would fight a Penguin, or maybe he’d skate away. Or maybe he’d fight. Who knows?
All I know is that, instead of watching that Atlantic Division throwdown, Isles and Pens fans will be doing anything but that – watching their AHL teams play, or trying to catch up on Euro hockey scores. Maybe they’ll be watching old fight clips, or drowning their sorrows in a six-pack of beer and Law and Order: Choose Your Acronym reruns. They just won’t be watching NHL hockey… and we all know why that is.
Bottom line? Tonight, I should be gearing up to argue with some Penguins fans and drink some Mike’s. Instead, I’ll be working until 8 p.m. and then catching up on the Sound Tigers’ game against the Whale. Which isn’t a bad thing — it’s great hockey, but… it’s just not where I’d like to be.
Is it mid-November yet?
The Islanders usually have some issues with back-to-back games, but tonight was a little bit different.
Rather than sit back, the Isles took charge, blasting the Pens by another 5-3 score. Al Montoya made 26 saves, getting plenty of help from an aggressive defense and a secondary offense- in the form of Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey- that combined for seven points total.
But the unlikely scorer? Marty Reasoner. Yeah, read that again. Marty. Reasoner. The one Isles fans have been giving crap all season long finally broke his goose egg, scoring five-hole on Marc-Andre Fleury after Mark Streit fed him a perfect cross-ice pass. I must admit, I was shocked and pleasantly so- as much as I tear him down, it’s nice to see something go his way. Besides, he’s been playing a great defensive game lately, so he’s got that much plus a goal going for him right now.
Pascal Dupuis burst the Isles’ happy bubble with a shorthanded goal in the second period, a nice wrister that eluded Montoya’s glove. It was tied until 16:36, when Okposo tipped it in on the power-play. And then, two minutes later, Bailey blew past the Pens’ PP and showed that he can do some shorthanded magic too- he backhanded the puck right past Fleury for his 12th goal of the year.
The Isles weren’t done there- or, I should say, the Bailey and Okposo duo wasn’t done yet. KO finally reached a landmark he’d been coveting for a while- the 20-goal plateau. And while Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin made things interesting with goals late, cutting the Isles’ lead to 4-3 (Malkin’s came as Fleury was on the bench for an extra skater), Bailey finally put a cap on it in the dying seconds with an empty-netter and his fifth- yes, fifth- point on the night.
Where was this when the Islanders still realistically had a chance at the playoffs? Well, it’s beyond discussion now. The fact is, they’re still playing major spoilers for other teams still jockeying for positions in the East. I guess the mentality now, other than playing for pride, is “well, if we can take others with us, heeeeck yeah.”
I’ll take it. If it’s all I can get, why not?
Notes: Streit’s gotten back to form- he recorded his 200th career assist with his play on Reasoner’s goal, and also led in TOI with 23:42… Neither goalie broke .900 in save percentage tonight, though Montoya had the edge, with .897 to Fleury’s .826… Attendance was officially recorded at 12,018, and a lot of those people seemed to be Penguins fans… Sidney Crosby briefly left the game during the second period, after a shot by Dylan Reese found its way under his shield and smacked him in the nose. He would return to play, but had only 1 shot, no points and a -2 rating in 17:28 on ice.
The top line was shut down, but secondary scoring shone, as the Islanders topped the Penguins at Consol Energy Center by a score of 5-3.
Frans Nielsen was easily the best forward on the ice, scoring two goals and posting a +4, but not far behind was Josh Bailey with three assists (on both Nielsen goals, and on David Ullstrom’s power-play goal in the second period). Nielsen started off the scoring with a nice rebound collection from the far side after Dylan Reese threw a shot at Marc-Andre Fleury. Then Michael Grabner had a little luck go his way, as Fleury got a piece (but not enough) of his snap shot with the glove. It was 2-0 Isles after one period, Nielsen with a new career high in goals scored and Bailey with a points streak extended to five games.
However, the game wouldn’t be complete without an Isles meltdown, and it came. Within the first five minutes of the second period, a 2-0 lead became a 2-2 tie, on goals by Tyler Kennedy and James Neal. The Penguins ended up carrying much of the momentum both in this period and the game, outshooting New York 54-25. The Islanders, however, managed to capitalize on mistakes by Fleury and the defense much more readily. At 12:48 of the second, Kyle Okposo broke the tie, flying along the right side and ripping a beautiful wrister past Fleury. Then Ullstrom scored on the man-advantage after drawing a penalty to Steve Sullivan, and Nielsen took advantage of a desperation play by Fleury by pulling to the side at the last second as Fleury charged at him, leaving a wide open-net to score on. Fleury’s own man, Paul Martin, crashed into him on that play, leaving him banged up, while on the other end Evgeni Nabokov was shaking off a leg injury caused by an awkward fall in his crease just before the Okposo goal. Neither of them would see ice time in the third period.
So instead, it was Al Montoya against Brad Theissen. Though Theissen got the better of Montoya in the period save percentage-wise, the Penguins goalie only saw seven shots to Montoya’s 22, and by that time, the Islanders had gathered such a lead that James Neal’s second goal of the night wasn’t enough. Not that the Pens didn’t try- they threw tons of rubber at Monty toward the end of the night, and the defense in front of him did all it could- Nielsen, Andrew MacDonald and Marty Reasoner especially- to make sure that the Penguins did not get another goal past its keeper, ensuring the two points in regulation.
Does this win feel good? Of course it does. Is it coming too late? More than likely, considering the Islanders are in 13th place and 11 points back of eighth in the East. But it’s great to see them beat a rival like Pittsburgh, especially when there’s already established bad blood between these two teams. And although the top line of Moulson-Tavares-Parenteau didn’t record a point, the Pens’ top duo of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby didn’t do much either- Malkin got two assists, but he and Crosby were both -1 and neither of them scored goals. Not a bad attempt at shutting down one of the hottest players in the league, if I may say so.
So, what next? Another round of Isles-Pens, of course, this time at the Coliseum. I can only imagine what this game has in store… I just hope it’s nothing extreme, if you know what I’m sayin’.