JT had a big part in it too.
It has been a while since I have written, but I have not lost my attention with the team. The 3-1 road trip has continued to make the Isles one of the hottest teams in the league. Lately, it has been a great effort by all four lines, that has made the Isles working on all cylinders.
In yesterday’s game, it appeared to be that Kevin Poulin, in his first NHL start, would suffer the same fate that Nathan Lawson had suffereed in Edmonton two nights before. However, in this case, Coach Capunano did not pull the goalie. In Poulin’s case, he settled down, and was strong throughout the rest of the game. He seems to have a quiet confidence about him, and appears to look calm and in focus; which is especially great to see from such a 20 year old player. This was a player that the great Patrick Roy mentioned two years ago that was the best goaltender in Canadian Junior hockey. That is praise indeed.
The offense, especially the power play, responded with their best effort since opening night. They got three power play goals, and two from an unlikely source. Jeremy Colliton, back from a year’s field trip to Sweden to gain some confidence, has come back a more mature and more comfortable player. He scored more goals in two periods that he has in his entire NHL on and off career of five years. Blake Comeau scored the other power play goal in between the Colliton efforts. After two periods, the 3-2 Islander lead looked to be a done deal.
Milan Hedjuk had different ideas. His second goal with under 5 ticks left in the game, forced the game into Overtime. And about three quarters of the way through JT made the Avalance pay. A great move coming around the net from the goalie Anderson’s left side, and gets the puck past the goalie to seal the 4-3 victory.
JT got his 14th of the season, and it is very easy to see that his comfort level is increasing and the line of Moulson, Pareteau and Tavares is clicking.
As an Islander fan – you have to be absolutely thrilled with the performance of this team during the past few weeks. The Jack Capuano experiement has been a success so far with the team playing at NHL 500 since his arrival. The Isles are now 10 points behind the hapless Devils with two games in hand. Their signts are now on Toronto, Florida and the rest of the bottom half of the Eastern Conference standings. If you told me that the Isles would be starting to make their challenge this early, would I have believed it? Maybe not – but with the continued winning and growing confidence, despite no full-time NHL goaltender at this time – this team is going to be no push over. Every team in the NHL is going to have to realize that you are going to need a 60 minute effort to beat the Islanders. With some home games coming in over the next week or so – the fans should come back, in force, to welcome back their boys and start to give them so much needed support.
Tonight – the Isles take on the defending champion Black Hawks. They are not the same team, but Chicago is still a tough opponent. All I hope is that the goaltenders do not give up a couple of goals early in the game. Get through that time, and get the offense going. They need to get some 5 on 5 goals, and that will help the team be even stronger than they have been. Let’s hope for another good effort and another two points.