After soundly defeating the Bruins for a combined 8-4 score over the first pair of meetings this season, the Islanders finally fell to the 2012 Stanley Cup champions in a slugfest that ended up in a score of 6-3.
All caution was seemingly thrown to the wind in Monday’s game. On both sides all attention was focused on the offensive game with defensive coverage merely an afterthought. They held nothing back, trading blows early and often. The power play was ineffectual and irrelevant; the teams combined for no goals through seven opportunities. It seemed no matter how hard the Isles battled back or how much they threw at their opponents, on this night the Bruins just had a little more in the tank.
The first half of the opening period was all Bruins. The shots stood at 15-1 in favor of Boston, yet thanks to some strong Islander goaltending (luck?) the Bruins led by a single goal. Then the pendulum swung and the Isles took over. By the end of the frame the score was knotted at one.
The back-and-forth continued through the second period, and despite outshooting the Bruins 17-9 the Isles trailed 4-3 heading into the third. It was in the final frame that the Isles finally succumbed to the Bruins’ onslaught, dropping a pair of goals from which they never recovered.
Okposo highlighted the Islander side of the ledger, continuing his career season with a three-point effort including his 23rd goal of the season and giving him ten points in his last five games. He added his 34th assist, eclipsing his previous career high of 33 set in 2009-10. The goal is one shy of his career best, established in 2011-12, and ties him for the team lead with captain John Tavares.
The fact that Okposo has tied for top goal spot is much more praise for the surging winger than a condemnation of Tavares’ ongoing stellar play this season.
Speaking of Tavares, it was a rare pointless showing as both he and linemate Thomas Vanek were both held off the score sheet. One player who kept his scoring streak alive was Thomas Hickey, who extended his personal run to four games.
Lubomir Visnovsky made his return to the Islander lineup after missing 46 games due to concussion-related symptoms. He played over 22 minutes and recorded no points, but fired one shot on goal and was plus one on the evening. The team’s record with Visnovsky in the lineup now stands at 3-4-2.
The return of Visnovsky meant another return to Bridgeport for rookie defender Matt Donovan. The 23-year-old blueliner has performed well in two stints with the big club this season but will now have a chance to hone his game in the AHL rather than sitting through the Olympic break.
The Isles record now stands at 21-26-8, seven points back of third spot in the Metropolitan Division. They round out the week with a home-and-home against the crosstown rival Rangers, including the much anticipated Stadium Series contest tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.