Pairs of goals by John Tavares and Matt Moulson, and an empty net goal from Michael Grabner to seal the deal gave the Islanders a 5-2 victory over the Calgary Flames in Calgary last night. This comes after a big win over the Redwings in Detroit on New Years Eave in overtime 4-3 on a PA Parenteau power play goal. So, the team that was finding it difficult to get points over a 20 game stretch has now been surging and collecting them against some rather tough opponents.
The Isles played a particularly strong first period and took a 3-1 lead into the locker room on the road. To me, this was key to the win. Although they did not look as good in the second period, they still held a 4-2 lead after that frame and then played a better third to win the game. Additionally, the power play picked up 2 more goals as well.
Although Rick DiPietro started the game and looked sharp, he left the game early in the second period with some sort of muscle strain (lower body injury). This certainly was not the scenario the team wanted to be facing with the trade of Dwayne Roloson having occurred, but Nathan Lawson stepped into the game and played extremely well. “Nate the Great” surrendered only a single goal in his time finishing the game, facing some tough shots and multiple scoring chances at times.
The line of Tavares, Moulson and Parenteau continued to play well, as JT also had a helper to go along with his 2 goals and Parenteau had 2 assists. Andrew MacDonald also had 2 assists, and I must repeat that I continue to be very impressed with the pairing of MacDonald and Travis Hamonic. Both guys have really responded well to their roles and have handled the job of top 4 defensemen like multi year veterans. The Isles went with 7 defensemen and 11 forwards last night, which did seem to work out fine for them. In fact, in my opinion, I think everyone played a very solid game and deserve the credit for another impressive victory.
The question will be how long is DP going to be out and what will the team do about it. Trading Roloson for Ty Wishart has already been a deal that has brought significant positive and negative responses from the fans as it is, but with Ricky apparently hurt, it will put a lot of pressure on inexperienced goaltenders. Personally, btw, as far as I am concerned, with Roloson becoming a UFA in July and the chances of resigning him not a possibility, I think the trade for a highly regarded defensive prospect was a good return for a 41 year old goaltender by Garth Snow. The only knock I have read on Wishart is that he does not use his size as effectively as he should, but at the age of 22, I think this can be something addressed by good coaching and guys he can learn from.
So, the Isles move on to Edmonton on Thursday to continue their 5 game road trip. Let’s keep it going, boys, and pick up another 2 points!
Happy New Year to all.
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