February 12, 2012

Isles Defeat Kings in OT

In what has become a string of must win games, the Islanders got back on the right track after beating the Kings 2-1 in overtime on Saturday afternoon.

It was a game that surely made Kenny Jonsson proud.

Jonsson gets inducted into the Isles Hall of Fame. Photo by C. Hessel
Prior to the game, Jonsson was honored for his nine years of service to the team, a year and a half of which was spent as team captain. Ironically, the Isles defense has never been the same since he retired after the 2004-05 lockout. The Islanders haven't had a steady, dependable defenseman with a great first pass since Kenny retired.

The Islanders certainly could have used a defenseman of his kind during this game, as the few power plays they had they had trouble getting anything going.

While each side had very few penalties called, the game was physical and had some questionable plays from both sides. The Islanders out-hit the Kings 48-41 in a game that Jack Capuano said was "play-off hockey right now" in response to my question.

The Islanders got on the board early when Michael Grabner scored on a rebound. It was his 15th of the season, and first in nine game. If the Islanders want to remain successful, they need more out of him. Too often this year when Grabner has been on a cold streak he'll score a big goal, give us hope he'll snap out of whatever ails him, and go back to the invisible act again. This is the time where he needs to continue to step up.

After Grabner's goal Jonathan Quick went back to being his normal unbeatable self. Quick made several really nice saves, even though he wasn't tested as often as you would have liked. He made a few fantastic saves on brother-in-law Matt Moulson.

In overtime, it was Mark Streit with the nifty move to beat Quick. Streit has had a few strong games this week, and it was nice to cap off the week with the winner in a big game for the Isles. It was Streit's 5th of the season.

As has become the norm lately, Evgeni Nabokov once again stole a game for the Isles. Nabokov was named the game's 1st star after a 34 save performance with a number of key saves when the Kings threatened. Nabokov said he felt great and could "absolutely" start Sunday's matinee game against the Florida Panthers.

Andrew MacDonald was thrilled with the performance of his goalie. "He was great, as he has been all year. He's got lots of leadership and experience and knows how to handle himself in these kinds of games." It's that leadership and experience that the Islanders right now are trying to ride as they go for their playoff push.

Sunday brings an extremely tough test in the Florida Panthers. The Panthers started the year off really well, and eventually fell down to Earth. Each day is a battle for them between 3rd, 8th and 9th. The Islanders have had a lot of trouble playing them, and usually have a difficult time beating Jose Theodore. The Islanders need to figure out a way to get back to winning against the Panthers, and today would be the time to do so. It's two points or bust as they are chasing them, and they need to get it done in regulation.

In the locker room after, the mantra was that the win over the Kings was nice but they had to quickly forget about it. Nabokov tried to stress this as well.

"We can't think right now too much. We have celebrate it for a few hours because tomorrow is a tough team. They're all tough right now."

The Panthers are missing a few of their key defensemen in Ed Jovanovski, Dmitry Kulikov and Jason Garrison. Theodore is just coming off of IR. The Islanders haven't generated many shots or offence in recent games and have been relying a lot on Nabokov and overtime points to get to where they are. They can't afford that Sunday.

Be sure to listen to NYI FYI live at 11 AM on Sunday, or catch the recording after the shows completion.



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