Snapping a 4 game losing streak, the Islanders defeated the Minnesota Wild on the road in the shootout 2-1. Outshooting their opponents 36-21 in the game, this was a game the Isles needed to win.
Even though it was against a Western Conference team, 2 points are 2 points. The fact that it had to go to the skills competition to get the job done really doesn’t matter. It was much more important to come away with the victory than settling for a single point in the game.
In addition to that, after losing to the Stars on Thursday at home 3-2, it was a positive thing to get back on the winning side. The Islanders have been playing well at times throughout the losing streak, so it was great to see them rewarded for their hard work and solid effort. Getting Andrew MacDonald back in the lineup, as well as Nino Niederreiter, was also a nice thing, considering the injuries that have begun to total up of late.The Islanders outshot and outplayed the Wild during the first 2 periods of the game. They put 24 shots on Niklas Backstrom, while Al Montoya only faced 9 shots over the 40 minutes of the first 2 frames of the game. To me, it seemed like Minnesota was the road team trying to find their legs.Fortunately for the Wild, they only gave up 1 goal, a slap shot from Andrew MacDonald, who gave the Islanders the lead in the 2nd period.
Cal Clutterbuck, however, tied the game in the 3rd period. Overall, the Wild came out guns a blazing, and looked like an entirely different team. Montoya had to come up big several times, though it must be said that the Islanders did not fold either. No, they got their chances as well, and still got 10 shots on net in the final period.
After the overtime came up scoreless, the game went to the shootout. While Al Montoya stopped all 3 shooters he faced, Frans Nielsen, using his reliable forehand/backhand move, got the only goal that counted. It gave the New York Islanders the 2-1 win, and a big 2 points in the standings.
Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the first period and 3 quarters of the game, but I do have some “blind observations” about the game and recent play.
• Michael Grabner is starting to regain his blazing speed. Perhaps, the groin injury is almost fully healed.
• Travis Hamonic continues to do a lot of the little things that do not make him seem like a 21 year old, inexperienced defenseman.
• Mark Streit might be trying to do too much out there. I don’t like to put “blame” on a single player, but his choice of passes did lead to Clutterbuck’s goal, and he did not have the best of games against the Stars either.
• It’s so good to have the “real” Kyle Okposo back. He wasn’t on the score sheet last night, but he played another strong game in all three zones.
• A little rest did Al Montoya a LOT of good. Another great game from Mr. Montoya.
• It’s Nice to have A-Mac back. Another young D-man who does a lot of the little things.
The Islanders go to Winnipeg, Travis Hamonic’s home town next. I would guess that we will see Montoya again in net on Tuesday. The Isles are going to have to continue to put plenty of shots on net and play with the kind of effort we saw last night. There is still a lot of hockey to go in the season, but you don’t want to be 10 or more points out of the final playoff spot come New Years day.
As a side note, being that we belong to the Fansided community, I would normally include a link to the blog of the Islanders opponent. Our Minnesota Wild blog is seeking writers, so if you know of anyone who would be interested in writing for their blog, please see Frank’s post on the main page
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