Phaneuf, Kadri Foil Isles at Home in OT

UNIONDALE, N .Y.–  Soft goals, a hat-trick, and poor backchecking during crucial moments of the game, cost the New York Islanders a point they so desperately needed. Now 2-8-1 at home, the Islanders are slowly sinking to the bottom of the Eastern Conference, taking their fan-base with them in the process.

Some inspired play by Kyle Okposo and the Frans Nielsen line added some energy to this hapless team, while mainstays like Michael Grabner and John Tavares are having issues putting pucks on and in the net. In fairness to JT, he’s being marked rather well these days, as every single team knows and has known that the key to victory against this squad is to put bodies around Tavares, clogging up his skating and shooting lanes.

As for Grabner: he floats like a butterfly and shoots like my Aunt Fanny. (My Aunt Fanny is myopic, people.) Manos de Piedra.  Grabner needs to finish his plays. Imagine, if you will, if 5% of his misses were goals–he’d lead the league in scoring.

Kyle Okposo and Nazem Kadri are tonight’s stories though, as Kadri has a breakout game, scoring three goals, one of which was most definitely Evgeni Nabokov‘s fault.

Often compared to Tavares with regards to scoring acumen, Kadri lacks his size and speed, but has JT’s heart and it showed this evening. Grinding away at the Isles’s backcheck, and on his last goal, split the defense something awful, almost barreling into Nabby, but not before scoring his hat-trick to send the game 4-2 in the Leafs’s favor.

The Islanders’s Kyle Okposo returned from torpor and played his finest game of the year, a three point effort that showcased some nifty passes and a strong wrist shot tally, glove side on James Reimer, tying the match at 4 a piece. (In all honesty, Okposo’s goal would’ve been a relatively easy save for another netminder. Not to take away from Kyle’s effort, but a fact is a fact.)

Both Josh Bailey and Lubomir Visnovsky scored their first goals of the year (Lubo’s first as an Islander) in the first period; Lubo brandishing his hefty point shot that hasn’t been at his disposal as of late. Bailey’s goal came within the first 3 minutes of the game, but the lead disappeared 2 and half minutes later with Kadri’s first. The Islanders rarely leave the first period unscathed.

As for Nabokov, yes, he played a strong third, but by that time he’d dug a hole for his team so deep that it forced an OT game that should not have been.

And Dion Phaneuf, another Islander killer, seals the deal and steals the extra point in OT for a club slowly marching toward the playoffs. (By the way, Phaneuf was able to pinch via the slot area after having beaten, nay, burned, nay, scorched a confused Okposo on the backcheck.)

Admittedly, the line changes this evening proved to be a good move on Jack Capuano‘s part, as most, if not all the energy came from the Isles second line. By night’s end the lines were switched up, seeing Moulson on Nielsen’s line at one point, then Grabner, etc. Nothing really worked, as the Isles could never get over the hump in time to avoid OT.

Speaking of which, this evening marks the first OT game for the Leafs this entire month, and now with tonight’s tally, the Leafs are tied for second overall in the Conference with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Upcoming are the New Jersey Devils, who aren’t as strong a team now that Martin Brodeur is on IR and Moose Hedberg is the goat as of late between the pipes; his club lost this evening to the surging Winnipeg Jets 3-1.

Some kind of party going on in the Eastern Conference–too bad the Isles uninvited themselves to it.

–RD

Follow Rich Diaz @eyesonisles

 

NOTES

  • This game marks the first time in decades that the Islanders played a full 5-on-5 for 60m at the Nassau Coliseum. The two potential penalties, the trip on Kadri washed away by his goal and the trip on Grabner converted into a Penalty Shot that Manos de Piedra missed by a mile and a half
  • Teams have figured out the Capuano system: Strike the shepherd (Tavares) and the flock will disperse
  • Nabokov is a difficult goalie to like and to hate: for every wonderful save, there’s three bad goals that go in–the saga continues for the New York Islanders and goalies. Reality is: Mets don’t have pitchers and the Islanders don’t have goalies
  • Saying this one last time for good measure: Garth Snow and Jack Capuano must go or Isles fans will. Chirp all you want. Not this season. But next year, no more Jack. By the time Brooklyn comes around, no more Snow. Good day to you
  • Isles: Hit the road. You’re better off.

 

Tags: Garth Snow Islanders John Tavares New York Islanders NHL Toronto Maple Leafs

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