October 17, 2010

Jurcina Tallies Twice as Isles down Avs 5-2

Milan Jurcina entered Saturday night's contest against the Colorado Avalanche with 15 career goals in 323 games. He would turn out to be the Islanders key source of offense, notching two goals and adding an assist as the Isles went on to defeat the Avalanche.

Jurcina's first goal came in the second period with the Isles on the penalty kill. Josh Bailey won the faceoff, which banked off the boards and went right to Jurcina for a quick shot that goalie Craig Anderson tried to catch with his glove, but missed. Later in the period, with Jurcina pinching towards the goal line to Anderson's left, Jurcina threw the puck at the net. The puck hit the post and the side of Anderson's pad in the small space he left and rolled over the goal line to give the Isles a 2-0 lead.

All of this happened after a fairly uneventful 1st period, one in which the Islanders were outplayed by the Avs. Bailey, earning the hard had for his effort in the game, told us in the locker room that Scott Gordon showed frustration after the first, pointing to the turnovers. That is an area that has killed the Islanders in the times when they haven't played well, and it certainly was the story of the first period tonight. Dwayne Roloson was very sharp, and really was the reason the Islanders were able to come out of the first unscathed.

Bailey scored a goal of his own on the powerplay to make it 3-0. He received a nice pass in the slot from P.A. Parenteau, and was able to be patient enough to wait for Anderson to go down into a split before lifting the puck over him. Bailey has been the Islanders best player most nights, and that was pretty much the case again tonight. He is really developing rapidly before our eyes, and it's been fun to watch so far.

Michael Grabner scored his first goal as an Islander, using his speed to go on a 2-on-1 with Parenteau and received the pass from him. Anderson appeared to play the pass pretty well and make the save but the puck went in anyway as Grabner got a lot on it. He had had a fairly quiet game until that point, and admitted after the game that he is still trying to learn things, but his main objective is to use his speed to push the opposing defensemen back. He did that a couple of times tonight, but still made some of those blind and dangerous passes.

John Tavares had the final goal for the Isles, adding an empty netter with 19 seconds left to seal it.

The Avs goals came from Chris Stewart and T.J. Galiardi. I was very impressed with Stewart this game. He had some good speed and has come a long way since being drafted in the 1st round in 2006. He'll exceed last years breakout numbers for sure. Anderson did not play badly either, and made a few big saves of his own. He's very quick for a goaltender his size, and will be a huge key to success for the Avs this season once again.

The defense was generally pretty good tonight. The Avs are a quick team and were able to exploit them on a couple of occasions, but in the end no real damage was done. Several guys, especially Mike Mottau once again, had the poke check working. They seemed more alert in getting pucks away from the front of the net, particularly when Roloson was sprawled out trying to make a first save. A number of Avs found themselves tied up when going for second chances as well. Jurcina was frequently involved in plays like this. He truly had his best game as an Islander, offense aside.

Here are some clips from the post game interviews (note: I only asked a couple of questions, and I want to give credit where credit is due to the others):

Milan Jurcina

Michael Grabner

Scott Gordon

NYI FYI Podcast Coming: It's Sunday, and of course that means a new podcast coming from Sean and I. Be sure to stop by the podcast site to check that out as we recap a very busy week that was in Islanders Country.



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