March 3, 2013

Islanders Defeat Sens in Shootout; NYI FYI Podcast for March 3rd Up

The game between the Islanders and Senators on Sunday afternoon wasn't the most exciting game, but for the Islanders and their fans it was exciting enough that the team finally was able to secure a home win.

The Islanders defeated the Senators 3-2 in a shootout, with the game-winning goal coming from John Tavares who is now 2-for-2 on those attempts this year after generally struggling with them in the early part of his career.

Brad Boyes had scored early in the game to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead and it would stay that way for a while. Boyes, Matt Moulson and Mark Streit did a nice job of passing to one another and rushing up the ice to create a nice scoring opportunity and a snap-shot goal for Boyes on a partial 2-on-1.

Mika Zibanejad scored the equalizer for Ottawa in the second period, capitalizing on a failed attempt by Travis Hamonic to get the puck out of the slot area. The errant attempt went right to the stick of Zibanejad who was open because Matt Martin stopped keeping up after figuring Hamonic had the clear on lock.

But it wasn't all bad for Martin as he brought the physical aspect to the game that the Islanders have been missing for the past week or so. Martin ended with 11 registered hits, and had a couple of nice scoring opportunities that he either mishandled or shot wide. However, it seems as though when Martin is more involved and playing smart, this Isles team as a whole plays better and we saw some of that Sunday.

Both goaltenders were as advertised, with Evgeni Nabokov and Robin Lehner not disappointing their respective fan bases. For much of the game the Islanders controlled the flow and pace, and got some excellent chances in on Lehner but he was up to the task turning away 33 of 35 shots.

It wasn't until late in the 3rd period when the Islanders would take a lead once more, with Michael Grabner making a B line off the bench and into the middle of the ice, picking up a loose puck between the faceoff circles and rifling a wrist shot past Lehner for a 2-1 lead that the Isles would fail to protect for very long.

A weak shot on the powerplay, after a questionable call on Kyle Okposo, would bounce around and deflect off of Hamonic's stick and past Nabokov with just over a minute left to force overtime and ultimately, a shootout.

With Lehner getting his first NHL shootout action, it only seemed obvious that Frans Nielsen would start the exhibition with his forehand-to-backhand move. But perhaps fearing that his Danish buddy Peter Regin tipped off his netminder, Nielsen went in with the quick shot through Lehner's 5-hole, a move he barely reacted to and then looked up to the rafters after. Nabokov made two solid saves while Boyes missed the net, which set up the stage for the under-the-weather Tavares to net his 2nd shootout winner of the season.

It's nice the Islanders were able to give a decent sized crowd something to cheer about and finally get a win at home, their first since the 5-1 drubbing of the Devils back on February 16th. The home schedule doesn't get any easier, with a much different Montreal Canadiens team coming in on Tuesday night followed by the Rangers on Thursday.

With a matinee game on Sunday, the Islanders should be well rested for Tuesday, and without a doubt need to harness the positive vibes from this one and turn it into some kind of home winning streak to get back into every one's good graces and the playoff race.

NYI FYI Sunday: Sean and I were back at it on Sunday, bantering for just over an hour on all the news around Islanders Country, including the Newsday exclusive from Sunday's paper and what we think it means as far as the team is concerned. Due to Sean's absence last week were were also able to give our thoughts on the Rick DiPietro situation and his future with the organization.

Check out the podcast from the show here, or subscribe and download via iTunes.

- Chris

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