They may have taken a couple of steps back with their two road efforts in Anaheim and Phoenix, but the Islanders were able to take one step forward on Tuesday night against the Detroit Red Wings.
The Isles came out strong all night, and played the Red Wings very well. They weren't being conservative or tentative - the Islanders out-shot them 17-8 in the first period - but they didn't get a puck past Ty Conklin until later in the frame. He had made some fantastic saves early on, but the Islanders were able to solve him on a power play. That opened up the flood gates once the second period came along.
The Islanders only took four shots in the second period, but controlled the play for a decent amount of it. The shots they took were quality ones, and they were able to score on three of them. Michael Grabner finally scored one of his vintage goals again, while Kyle Okposo's goal from John Tavares was an excellent play all around.
Evgeni Nabokov stood tall, and came up huge in many spots. It's hard to point to just one play that he made that not only kept the Islanders ahead big, but stopped any chance of gaining momentum that Detroit had.
All in all, it was a solid effort by the Islanders with not a lot of flaws. Sure, we would like to see more shots in the second period but when the Islanders took shots of the quality they did, you can let it slide for this one.
They'll have a really tough test on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, perhaps even tougher than this one. I guess at this point of the season, it goes without saying that everything is a "tough test" for them. At some point though in the VERY near future this team will run out of chances to jump back in it.
At practice on Wednesday, David Ullstrom and Al Montoya appeared to be ready to go. Ullstrom was activated and sent down to Bridgeport where he'll get back into the swing of things. Montoya was never put on IR, so he can come back any day now it appears. Kevin Poulin is still up, but I think that's day-to-day at this point. Many, myself included, thought Poulin was going to start the game against Detroit, only for Nabokov to get the nod again - and understandably so. Due to the shutout streak he had going, Poulin continued to be tapped on the shoulder. But the Islanders now may want to have Nabokov sit on this one for an extra day and go with a different look against a team it feels like they haven't beaten in about 10 years.