The Islanders were able to eek out a win against the Minnesota Wild on Monday, during their annual Columbus Day Matinee game. The mascots were out in full force as well, as it was also the Isles annual "Kids Opening Day."
The Isles opened the game putting on a good show for the fans, and after the first period led 2-0 and had a shot advantage of 10-2. All seemed to be going well.
Then, the rest of the game happened. The Islanders were able to hold on, but didn't play very well in the final 40 minutes, getting out shot 19-5. They took a few offense zone penalties which didn't help their cause very much, and made both the plays and fans restless.
Brian Rolston was one of the players not completely satisfied with the win.
" The first period we were great, in the second and third we got away from our game. Al Montoya was the star of the game for sure."
Rolston also mentioned that the turnovers "gave them momentum. They had opportunities on us and we were taking penalties."
Just as any grizzled vet would do though, Rolston was optimistic the team would just take the win, learn from it and go from there.
He's absolutely right. The effort was not at all ideal, and a bit concerning. However, for many of these players it's just the fourth time they're really getting to play since the Isles always have insanely short preseason schedules. The turnover factor is very frustrating, and we've seen it in the Isles first two games.
One thing I did like was that they were getting more chances from the point. More players were crashing the net on a consistent bases, which made for some good opportunities when the Isles got the puck on net from the blueline. Mark Streit's slap pass to Frans Nielsen for the Isles 2nd goal shows you what can happen when players go hard to the net.
As Rolston mentioned, Montoya was the player of the game. He had every reason to hold his head high, and he did.
For other plays, however, they weren't as enthused. For some of them it was justified.
I've never heard of or seen NHL players look at the official scoring summary after a game, but walking into the Isles locker room on Monday afternoon, I saw just that.
Matt Martin sat at his stall, carefully reading the numbers and shaking his head. Steve Staios scanned the numbers, talking with Mike Mottau on the amount of penalties and lack of shots the team had. Clearly, this was something they were all on the same page about. The fact they know what they have to do is at least encouraging.
The Isles have a tough test coming up Thursday night in the form of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning have been having some defensive problems early on, so the Isles need to stick to what works and not make it easy for the lightning to pick the puck up off of a turnover.