Coyotes Spoil Nathan Lawson’s First NHL Start in the Shootout

By John Panarese

I was a bit surprised by the choice of starting Nathan Lawson in net over a perfectly capable, Dwayne Roloson, but the guy certainly played well enough to win the game against the Phoenix Coyotes last night.  No, he wasn’t “spectacular”, but, then again, he didn’t have to be.  The bottom line is he played well enough to earn his first NHL win, but, unfortunately, the team fell short in giving him it.

After Phoenix took a 1-0 lead in the first period, the Islanders got second period goals from Jesse Joensuu and Michael Grabner to give them a 2-1 lead.  However, the Yotes tied the game early in the third before Rob Schremp temporarily gave his team the lead again.  Then, with 1:28 left in the third, Martin Hanzal knotted the game up at 3.  There was no scoring in the overtime, though the Islanders had to kill off over a minute and fifty seconds worth of a 4 on 3 power play after Michael Grabner received a delay of game penalty for accidentally putting the puck over the glass in the defensive zone in the closing seconds of regulation time.

I felt really bad for Lawson.  Besides getting thrown to the proverbial lions with his first NHL start on such short notice, he then had to face his first NHL shootout.  Unable to stop any of the Coyotes shooters, the Islanders weren’t able to match that, only getting a goal from Frans Nielsen.  Shane Doan, Radim Vrbata, and Kyle Turris all scored on Lawson, as I think he was a bit over matched facing NHL shooters for the very first time.

Although the Islanders did get a point out of the game, it was another bit of a disappointment both for not having earned the 2 points and for Nathan Lawson suffering such an unfortunate loss.  It wasn’t that the Isles played a “bad” third period, and, in fact, they truly were the “better team” overall in the game, outshooting and out playing Phoenix throughout most of the contest.  However, once again, it just seemed as if every mistake they made resulted in a goal for the Coyotes, which translated into the loss in the end.

Nevertheless, the positives, as far as I am concerned, are that the Islanders continue to get scoring, their power play produced another goal, and they played a very solid game.  They competed hard and played well enough to have won it.  I’d rather see that from the boys then a non-existent effort or a team that is simply going through the motions.  The Lightning are up next on Wednesday, and I expect that we will see another team effort with additional improvements in that game.

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