March 20, 2011

DiPietro Returns to Help Defeat Panthers in Shootout

The Islanders came into their game against the Florida Panthers after losing a tough one to the Carolina Hurricanes. To make matters worse, the Isles hadn't won at the BankAtlantic Center since November 2006.

But as they say, all things good and bad must come to an end at some point.

For the Islanders, that was Saturday night. The Panthers gave the Isles a good fight in what was a rather sloppy game at times, but some key goals and some key saves by Rick DiPietro helped the Isles to the shootout win.

Michael Grabner scored his 30th goal of the season against the team that let him go in the summer. This now gives the Isles two 30 goal scorers in the line-up for the first time since the 2001-2002 season (Alexei Yashin and Mark Parrish). Grabner and Moulson both have a handful of games left to get an even higher mark, while John Tavares needs only four more to join the 30 club himself.

Early on, DiPietro was tested early and often. I thought he looked strong all night, and it was good to see him get tested like that.

The few goals that he gave up could have been stopped. There was one goal where I blamed the defense more so than DiPietro (the first goal with Travis Hamonic losing his man). However, I felt that overall he didn't show too many signs of rust.

In the shootout, we got to see the best of DiPietro as he made some nice stops. He's always been really good in the skills competition, no matter what's been going on with him. Saturday night was no different.

The game was sloppy at points, sure. But I felt that the fight was there, and was proud of the way the team played. It's no easy task for this team to win in Florida, but they finally were able to get that monkey off their backs.

The Isles will have a few days to suck it all in before going to Tampa to take on Dwayne Roloson and the Lightning. The Lightning are trying to get their way back up to 2nd, ahead of Washington. They are a very strong team that has a lot of speed at wing. The Islanders need to be better than they were against the Panthers when it comes to defensive positioning. They'll have to be a bit more careful about how much space they give the forwards.


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