February 4, 2012

Eaton Scores Winner for Isles in Ottawa

The Islanders were successfully able to walk away with two points from a team that normally gives them headaches. After going to overtime, they got the winning goal from an unlikely source, however.

Mark Eaton put the puck past Craig Anderson, who was completely fooled by Eaton's spin-o-rama backhand shot (pass?) after a really nice pass by Milan Jurcina.

It was Eaton's first goal in a long time. The last one came on November 28th, 2009. For Eaton, who signed with the Islanders in July 2010, it was his first goal as a member of the team.

Both Isles goals were set up beautifully by P.A. Parenteau. He has been pretty consistent despite no longer playing on a line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson. He's created some good scoring opportunities, but unfortunately is playing with two offensive black holes right now in Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner.

Matt Martin scored the other goal for the Isles, setting a career high for him. It was his 6th of the season. In this game, it was offense from plenty of unlikely sources with Tavares being held off of the score sheet.

Evgeni Nabokov was brilliant in net, despite the one odd goal, scored short handed by Zack Smith. He made a number of really great saves when the Senators had some chances, particularly in close. He was strong with both his stick and blocker for those chances.

Anderson, meanwhile, looked shaky but the Islanders were unable to capitalize on a lot of the moments where he slid out of the net. They hit a few posts and had pucks just dribble wide, which is alarming when you consider guys like Grabner or Nielsen should be able to put one or two of those chances in. But the Islanders defensively were solid, and that afforded them the opportunity to come out with two points despite not having a great offensive showing.

Andrew MacDonald looked a step slow to me, but seemed to be able to compensate well. He made a few nice plays and deflected a number of shots wide just by having his stick in the right spot at the right time. Mark Streit didn't look very confident out there, refusing to use his big slap shot on at least three different occasions, one leading into a scoring chance the other way after he was pressured and turned the puck over.

It was a very important two points mainly because having been idle since Tuesday night, the teams the Isles were battling had all picked up points. On Friday night, the Isles were one of only a few teams in action so they needed to win this game in hand they had on many teams.

Now, we're at the same point we could have been a couple of weeks ago - the Isles have a chance to get to NHL .500 with a win on Saturday against Buffalo. The Sabres have gone to overtime a few times this week and sit one point behind the Islanders currently.

In general, when the Isles have had this chance to take this next step, they've faltered. Getting to one game under .500 was a chore in itself, and took a few attempts. With a home game after having played in Ottawa the night before, the chance of exhaustion is great. Lets see if they can match the intensity they've had the last few games, and not let a back-to-back phase them at all.

Time to take that next step into making us all believe again.



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