A tale of two halves at tonight’s game at the Nassau Coliseum.
The first half showed the Islanders with some solid efforts, a great deal of shots, some great goals, and things were looking better than the first three games that the Islanders played Pittsburgh.
Then – the elbow that NEVER happened.
Referees Dan O’Halloran and Frederick L’Ecuyer felt that the Isles Travis Hamonic got his elbow up on Brooks Orpik, and received a five-minute major and game misconduct. The Penguins who then got a 5 on 3 power play, took advantage of the situation, giving the Pens the 4-3 lead, and never looked back.
Mark Streit, speaking to the media following the game on the Hamonic penalty: “It was a joke. That’s how I saw it.”
The Isles took an early 2-0 lead on goals by David Ullstrom (2nd) and Milan Jurcina (2nd). At that point – you really think that the Isles had the momentum to take this game forward. However, Steve Sullivan and James Neal scored goals, with the latter in the last minute of the period, knotting the contest at 2.
In the second period, Kyle Okposo got his fourth of the season, firing a strong wrist shot high over Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Isles the 3-2 lead.
Fifteen seconds after Milan Jurcina was called for an interference penalty, Hamonic got called for his penalty.
“I’ve watched it numerous times, and that’s a play where I probably wouldn’t even get credit for a hit,” the sophomore defenseman told the media after the game. “You watch the play and I skate by and there was minimal contact with the opposing player. He hits himself in the forehead with his own stick. He goes down and he’s bleeding … next thing you know, five-minute major and you’re kicked out of the game.”
James Neal, nearly a minute and fifteen seconds into the 5 minute major, got a tip-in into an empty net, to even the game at three.
The Isles killed the remainder of the major penalty, and from that point on – the team seemed to lose the wind in their sails.
The loss of wind would be realized when Pascal Dupuis took a long slapper from just outside the right faceoff circle, that got past Al Montoya, giving the Pens the lead for good.
Pittsburgh would completely dominate New York in just about every facet of the game in the third period. Two goals my Matt Cooke (2nd) and Paul Martin (1st), would finish the scoring for the visitors. It did not look like any battle for a puck in the corners were won by the Isles at all.
“They got the victory tonight because we were second to all loose pucks,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano told the media in his post-game press conference. “We didn’t win any puck battles. We didn’t deserve to win that game. We just turned too many pucks over.”
The Penguins have won all 4 of their games against the Islanders this season, and Marc-Andre Fleury was strong in net when he had to. The Isles lost their first game in regulation in their last seven contests.
This was also the first time that Montoya had given up more than three goals on home ice. With his eighth consecutive game played, he might be a little tired. As Chris King commented on the post game show on WRHU, it would be a great thing to see Kevin Poulin see his first NHL action of the season in his home province against Les Habitants.
Tomorrow will be a day that the Isles need to work on their defensive coverages and puck battles, and great ready for Montreal. Get back to winning ways, and right the ship.
The call was a bad call, but the team needs to move forward. That should be the plan of attack.
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