The Calgary Flames entered Thursday night's game with a four game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Islanders went in on a three game losing streak, with two of those losses coming at the hands of their rivals from New York City. One thing that the Islanders did have going for them was the fact that this was a Western Conference opponent.
At this rate, the Islanders may want to petition the league to have them play in one of the Western conferences when relocation happens next season.
Once again, the Islanders showed up to play and did a fantastic job against a Western Conference opponent. You can say what you want about the Flames, but they entered on some hot streak, which was being led by captain Jarome Iginla. The Islanders were very effective in neutralizing Iginla and the other big guns for Calgary.
The Islanders' defensemen were very active, combining for a total of 10 shots. They once again did an effective job of keeping the puck deep in the zone. It may seem like such a simple concept, but the defensemen this season generally have had a problem with getting a puck at the blueline and putting it back in deep along the boards. The fact that they were able to do that created some good scoring chances on Miikka Kiprusoff.
Andrew MacDonald, John Tavares and Brian Rolston all scored for the Islanders.
The goal by Tavares was a thing of beauty. He got a nice pass from Kyle Okposo along the boards, went around defenseman Chris Butler, and deked around Kiprusoff to bury home the shot. It was a fantastic move and showed the best of what Tavares is capable of. It also showed us a benefit of having Okposo on that line. He can do the dirty work on the boards, get the puck and feed it up to a always heads up player in Tavares.
MacDonald chose the perfect time to pinch his goal, which came when the Islanders were down by one. All he needed to do from the slot area was get a quick shot in on Kipper, and that was exactly what he did. Kipper expected the shot, but MacDonald put it just inside the right post and just out of reach.
Meanwhile, Rolston's goal was an empty netter, but worth mentioning anyway - he had returned from missing five games with a concussion (or "concussion-like symptoms," as everyone around the league likes to call them).
P.A. Parenteau got two more assists, giving him the team lead at 24. This was the first game in a long time where he wasn't on that top line, but he still made a few nice passes, most notably to MacDonald for his goal. It shows that he is an adequate play making winger option who can slot in and provide some good plays on any line.
Evgeni Nabokov, who played well enough to win Monday against the Rangers, made some nice saves and looked very strong in between the pipes. The Islanders finally gave him some support to work with, although it still wasn't much. Nabokov played about as error free as you could have hoped against a team coming in with a hot offense. The one goal he did give up was one of those freak plays that just happens sometimes. Nabokov was playing the pass, as you would expect any goalie to.
It would be nice for the Islanders to have a very similar effort on Saturday afternoon against the Edmonton Oilers. They are honoring Ken Morrow after all, and inducting him into the New York Islanders Hall of Fame. The last time the Islanders had a night like that was for Ed Westfall, and they didn't even show up to play, losing 6-0 to the Boston Bruins. After their hot start, the Oilers fell down to earth a bit. If the Islanders have a similar effort to Thursday, they should be fine.
I would expect the Isles to roll with the same lines too. They seemed to work well against Calgary, so no need to change things once again. Let these lines gel a bit. It looks like it's something to build on. It took them long enough to finally roll with what made sense.