All season long one of the Islanders' biggest issues had been getting offensive support from players not named John Tavares, Matt Moulson or P.A. Parenteau. Over the last couple of weeks that's slowly gotten better. On Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, it was the best we had seen it in quite some time.
None of those three registered even a point for the Islanders who were finally able to end a long losing streak in Pittsburgh, picking up a win for the first time since December 2007 when the Penguins played their home games at Mellon Arena.
Frans Nielsen, Michael Grabner, Kyle Okposo and David Ullstrom all scored for the Islanders. Nielsen's two goals gave him 16 for the season. Grabner and Okposo have struggled a bit finding the back of the net, but now are both within striking distance of getting to 20.
All of this is silver lining. However it is nice to see these guys finally snap season long funks and hopefully take something positive into the offseason, especially Grabner who has seemingly been in a confidence struggle all year. For what it's worth, the Islanders were able to avoid elimination from playoff contention for yet another day. After the Toronto Maple Leafs were officially eliminated, the Islanders are now on deck. But they get to fight another day.
The Islanders goaltending was as strong as it needed to be. Despite getting the 2-0 lead after the first period, Pittsburgh threw a lot of shots (17) at Evgeni Nabokov. A few minutes into the second and Pittsburgh began to get their chances past the netminder, but after a few nice saves Nabokov once again allowed his team to regain momentum and eventually capitalize on it.
Unfortunately, Nabokov left the game after taking an awkward tumble to the ice and suffered an apparent leg injury. The Islanders have announced that he's day-to-day with a 'lower body' injury. Al Montoya took over in the third for the club, and stopped 21 of 22 shots he saw to finish the game off and bring the Islanders within one game of NHL .500.
In total, Isles' netminders saw 54 shots. The team converted on five of 25 shots, all scored on Marc-Andre Fleury who has had the Isles' number in his career.
Despite the lack of the dreaded elimination 'X' next to their name, the Islanders are already playing the part of spoilers. After ruining the Panthers' hopes of two points in their quest for a Southeast Division Title, the Islanders seriously dented Pittsburgh's hopes of being the best in the East. That spot currently belongs to the New York Rangers, who defeated the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday to take a three point lead over the Penguins in the conference.
This is where it's fun to be the spoiler. Well, it's never fun but you get where I am going with this.
Anytime you can win a game against a tough opponent, who has won 10 straight home games, who you have not beaten on the road in four and a half years and ruin their playoff positioning, you can hang your head high and take the positives from it and hopefully expand on them when the games matter a bit more to both teams next season.