January 3, 2012

Isles Bend, Break but Escape with Win Over Canes

It's safe to say that the Islanders were hoping the start of 2012 would have gone much better than it did. But in a game that Scott Allen said had a few "peaks and valleys," the Islanders ended up getting the end result they wanted all along, even if it looked unlikely for a decent part of the game.

The Islanders were resilient, despite giving up a ton of shots, and were able to come back and win in a shootout.

Matt Moulson was able to get them on the board early, which is something that's normally important and a good sign for the Islanders. But it only took about half a minute for the Carolina Hurricanes to tie the game up, before eventually taking the lead in the 2nd off of a broken play between Evgeni Nabokov and Andrew MacDonald.

The Islanders were already scrambling by that point, so even though Nabokov was at fault for the goal, his team wasn't doing much to help him out. With an inability to get a good offensive break out going in the early part of the second after a solid first period, Nabokov likely felt that he needed to "help out" in some way, but it backfired on him.

The team came out a little bit better in the third period, but were not physical enough. They were letting some of Carolina's 3rd and 4th line players - notably, Chad LaRose, who has always been pretty effective - get the better of them, get to loose pucks and come in and out of the corners untouched. That's how LaRose got his goal to give the Canes their 3-2 lead with just over four minutes to play. Not to mention a very poor play by Milan Jurcina.

But John Tavares had other ideas. I wish we could say the same for many of his teammates, but it was Tavares who factored in on every Islanders goal, including the spectacular pass to Kyle Okposo to tie the game at three with 1:30 remaining. Tavares would also have two chances to win the game in the final minute and in overtime.

P.A. Parenteau and Frans Nielsen scored on their patented shootout shots, while Nabokov stood tall, only giving up the goal to Jussi Jokinen who has made quite a name for himself in shootouts throughout his career.

All in all, the Islanders were able to piece together a victory despite all the signs going against them. It was the first game the Islanders won all season when trailing after two periods. It wasn't ideal by any means, and the Islanders have to scrap to get every point they can right now and run. But, a similar effort like this against a much better team won't fly. They need to tighten up, and at some point players other than those on the first line must step up and provide some offense.

Now for the tough part of the trip believe it or not as the Isles head out West to take on Anaheim. While the Ducks have struggled mightily this season, it's another game against a weaker opponent that the Islanders could very well handle. Anaheim does still have all their usual weapons like Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry so it will be another tough test and a heartbreak if the Islanders can't come out with at least a point. They have a good shot to really jump over a couple of teams on this road trip, and it can go a long way to getting back into the hunt. But they need to take it one game at a time, and one team at a time.



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