The Islanders managed to get a quick 3-1 lead after being scored on within the first eight seconds of the first period against the Washington Capitals tonight. However, the score was eventually 4-3 Caps by the end of the second period. The Isles were granted two late powerplays, the latter resulting in the game tying goal that got the Isles that point that they would have given up if they had lost in regulation.
But once again the Isles ONLY get one and not two.
Trent Hunter had an immediate impact with his return to the line-up tonight with his blast of a slap-shot that beat the substituted Sergei Varlamov. And let me tell you, his shot was a bit of a hint for where the Islanders needed to go in the shoot-out: top shelf, over the glove. The only other Islander to make that attempt in the shoot-out was Jeff Tambellini, shooting to his usual top-right corner that he loves to snipe over the goalie's shoulder.
Why didn't any of the remaining 10 shooters make that attempt? Anyone care to tell me?
It was very frustrating to watch as the Isles continued to deke, aim for the five-hole, toe drag to bring the puck blocker side, etc etc. This goalie had a low frame that was always close to the ice and the Isles needed to exploit that. But they didn't, and once again, the Isles lose an important point.
Many may argue that this game should be taken with a grain of salt. The Isles were playing a team that is filled with incredibly fast skaters that know how to move, dangle, and shoot the puck. And that still goes even if Alexander Ovechkin isn't playing.
Prime example: Alexander Semin is showing that he can be a prime-time NHL star, with or without Ovechkin. I am not just saying that because of his goals, moves and skating ability. He even back-checked on defense VERY effectively. When certain Islanders were caught flat-footed, like Bruno Gervais in the third period, Semin was there right up his you know what and stripping him off the puck, turning play in the other direction.
With all of that being said, I am not someone taking this game with a grain of salt. The Islanders had a 3-1 lead and couldn't maintain it. Plain and simple.
I will say that Hunter's goal was huge. I didn't expect them to tie it, I'll be honest. The Islanders I am used to would have lost in regulation. But they have emerged as a different team over this little stretch where they have been above .500. Even though the game had a certain feel of "roll-over-and-die" hockey from the second period on, (the type of hockey when you can sense the Islanders are simply out if it), they managed a way to tie it and hold on through overtime.
That definitely pleases me. The fact that Bergenheim scored a goal due to his own work and not a bouncy rebound in front pleases me. The fact that Streit got himself back on the score sheet with a goal AND an assist pleases me. And of course, Matt Moulson continuing to prove he wasn't some 10-game fluke pleases me too.
It's going to be a crucial 6 games to see where the Islanders stand as a team. Getting a point on the road is always a good thing, but they need to play a consistent 60 minutes and stick to their type of hockey. Physical, aggressive and hard-working.
To Scott Gordon...
Usually I am a very big supporter. I am not against his coaching methods by any means. To the contrary, I love the system the Isles play in. When they do it right they are very effective, and once players like Tavares, Bailey, Okposo, and so on have it down to a science, they will be a very exciting team.
But all of that aside, why was Jon Sim in the shoot-out? Anyone can say he hustles his tail off on the ice. He definitely does. But he is not much of a fourth-line hockey player, if that at best. I don't see how Sim goes before Streit. It just boggled my mind. If that was the case, why didn't Witt or Jackman go before Streit too?
And back to where this entry started, if Gordon is a former goalie himself, how could he not notice that the Islanders should have been shooting higher on Varlamov in the shoot-out?
I know that Billy Jaffe on the TV and myself could not have been the only two to notice this.
But all you can do is look back and learn. Friday the Islanders face the struggling Hurricanes and look for their first win on this road-trip.