November 2, 2013

Resilient Isles get Shootout Win in Ottawa

The Islanders night looked like it was going to be a pretty long one after the first period was over, with the Senators having scored two quick goals to go into the intermission and the Isles unable to capitalize on really controlling much of the period.

However, the Islanders were finally able to be party spoilers of their own and ended up on the other side of a team blowing not only one two goal lead, but two.

The Isles battled back down 2-0 and then 4-2, and picked up goaltender Evgeni Nabokov who was anything but stellar in this one. The most important thing however was that he stepped up when it really mattered in the third period, and after Frans Nielsen tied the game was able to not let anything else by him.

Finally we saw the Isles getting the puck to the net quicker than usual. There weren't many second guesses coming from the team, and they were quicker with their decisions on when to pass and shoot. As much of us have been calling for all along, the Isles got shots off early and often on Robin Lehner and managed to put four pucks past him on 57 shots. Had the Isles done a better job with getting traffic in front of the net, they might have been able to take care of this one in regulation as should have been the case anyway given their effort.

Defensively I liked what I saw. There were still some problems here and there and Andrew MacDonald had another rough night but overall the team played a little bit better. I thought Travis Hamonic picked his spots nicely on when to hit and the Isles were good at bringing it too the Sens and knocking them off of their game. We didn't see much from Jason Spezza, so you know that the Isles were just physical enough to keep the big guns at bay.

It's games like this one where you forget about the fact that it was yet another three point result and just take your two points and run. The Isles were fortunate enough to bail out their goaltender, and he repaid them in the 3rd period, the extra frame and the shootout.

After the effort against the Rangers, this was a much more welcome sight for the Isles team where they seemingly had a lot of their key areas working well. Thomas Vanek and John Tavares seem to be developing some chemistry, as you could see from the beautiful behind the back pass Vanek made on Tavares's goal. Nielsen continued his hot play, creating chances all night and scoring a goal of his own (of course) on a nice cross ice feed from Thomas Hickey.

Now, the Islanders come back home with the odds stacked against them. Facing the Boston Bruins, it'll be a tall order for the Islanders to put their home woes behind them, especially after having such a strong effort on the previous night. Stranger things have happened, but it certainly seems unlikely that the teams home issues will go away Saturday. But we'll see if they can surprise us and build off of the momentum of Friday nights double comeback.

- Chris

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