March 31, 2013

Isles Strong, but Pens Streak at 15

When it comes to playing a team on the kind of streak that the Pittsburgh Penguins are on right now, you couldn't have asked for more when it comes to the Isles play.

Tomas Vokoun made some unbelievable saves to keep the Isles off the scoresheet all game, despite throwing anything that they could at him and getting some of the best scoring chances we've seen in a while.

The Islanders definitely played with the Penguins stride for stride, which is something not many teams can say of late. So that in itself is a positive to take from this game.

The thing that kills everyone is that the Islanders couldn't score on any of their powerplay attempts, including an extended 5-on-3. Quite simply, there is no excuse for that and it's ultimately what did the Isles in, ruining their golden opportunity to perhaps steal a point out of this game.

It is a shame that this came at a time when the Islanders need all the points they can get. In reality, they needed to get one point out of this game. But you can't fault them given how they played. It just makes two points on Monday against the Devils that much more important.

For as much as Vokoun frustrated Isles shooters, Evgeni Nabokov did the same to the Penguins, basically matching Vokoun save for save until there was about 10 minutes left in the game. Neither goal Nabokov gave up was soft and are the kind of goals you would expect to happen in a game of this magnitude.

The style of play was very playoff like, and I was glad to see that the Isles were able to stick with the Pens all game. If they were to get into the playoffs, this would be a likely match-up for them. The Pens won't shut the Isles out everyday either, especially not with the chances the Isles got.

Of course it helped the Isles a bit that Sidney Crosby got hurt early, although you never wants to see that kind of injury happen to someone. But he was one less weapon the Isles had to deal with. Crosby had oral surgery right after the game, and his status for the near future is uncertain given the concussion issues of the past.

Josh Bailey was also hurt in this game, getting checked from behind by Chris Kunitz to give the Isles those great powerplay chances they squandered. There was no real update on Bailey, however he was able to skate off under his own power which is good news. The injury looked like it was to his shoulder or head. It would kill the Isles to lose him now, given his recent play most notably with Kyle Okposo.

There are no other ways to say it now: the Islanders need two points in New Jersey. The Rangers got shut out again in Montreal, leaving them and the Islanders tied for 8th. The Devils sit just four points ahead after their OT loss to Florida.

This leaves very little room for error, and the Islanders with another huge opportunity.

- Chris

For thoughts on the Lubomir Visnovsky signing, click here.

Be sure to check out Saturday's podcast (when available) through either our homepage or the PodBean page! Available now through the homepage is the video recording of the show.

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