Things were looking so good for the Islanders for so long. As the end of the second period came though, you could sense a change in direction coming. The Avalanche peppered the Isles with 18 shots in the second, with one finally getting in near the end of the period. That would be the beginning of the end.
Many hoped that the end of the period would signal the end of the Avs new found pressure, and snap the Isles out of the funk they were in but that didn't happen. The Avs continued to put the pressure on, and between failed clearing attempts, indecisiveness with the puck and not moving legs around too much, the Islanders buckled and cost themselves two points.
Al Montoya let in a couple of weak goals, but he didn't get very much help from his defense all night. It's inexcusable to give up 51 shots to a team, even if they are at home. The Avs average 31 shots a game, and have had trouble putting the puck in the net at home too. Montoya got beaten by some bad shots, but the Isles defense left the front of the crease very open and Montoya did make some great saves on high percentage shots. A guy can only do so much.
Ironically, it was a very bad penalty by Montoya in overtime that would give the Avs the game winner.
Brian Rolston was one of the Isles best forwards. He was pretty strong on the puck all night, and even looked a step faster. It must have been something in the thin Denver air. Rolston scored a goal and even made a number of nice take aways on Avalanche players. It was a different player than we had seen at points this season.
Rolston's linemates, P.A. Parenteau and Frans Nielsen also had strong games. This is obviously something that works right now. I still like the idea of these two using their speed to get the puck in deep and get defenders down with them and then feeding a hopefully open Rolston due to all of that. Rolston can still put the puck in the net if given the time and space to do so, and could benefit many more times from plays like the Isles made prior to their second goal.
Kyle Okposo gave us shades of the Okposo of old, but late in the third period he still showed some signs of struggling. I thought all in all he did a good job of controlling the puck and holding onto it.
Defensively, there was still a lot of scrambling around, in particular in the third period. The Islanders could really use another solid top four defenseman, and if they are working on a deal for one now should continue to pursue it. Games like this, when things go wrong in crunch time, is where it is really apparent that it's a huge hole.
Josh Bailey, who finally scored a goal of his own in this one, said after the game the blown lead was inexcusable. I couldn't have said it better myself. When it comes down to it, you could sense the young and hungry Avs team slowly come back, and the Isles seemingly let them by going into their defensive shell, playing scared.
The Islanders play a rare Sunday night game in Vancouver. It's a tough one, even though the Canucks have gotten off to a very pedestrian start. The Isles can't afford a 40 minute effort against a team like the Canucks. The same result will happen, and with a team like them may not even have the chance to get to overtime.
A special thanks and Happy Veterans Day to all of our readers. For those that are vets, thanks for all that you either have or continue to do for our country!