Isles Beat the Sabers, Despite a Sloppy Game

By John Panarese

Well, in reality, both teams did not play their best hockey.  The Islanders often appeared as if they wanted to give up their lead, while Buffalo game the Isles a few “gifts” as far as give aways and odd man rushes all night.  In the end, though, it was a 5-2 victory for the visitors.

Michael Grabner is simply red hot.  He scored 2 more goals (his 13th and 14th), while Matt Moulson, PA Parenteau and Jack Hillen got the other goals for the blue and orange.  With Grabner’s and Moulson’s first period goals, it was the first time in 9 games in which the Islanders actually scored first in a game.  More importantly, they held the lead, despite what appeared to be their best efforts to give it up at times.

Nathan Lawson started the game in net for the Islanders, while Ryan Miller was pulled from the game after the second Islander goal.  Lawson stopped all ten shots he faced in the opening period, but he suffered an apparent knee injury and did not return.  So, Kevin Poulin took over between the pipes, and after a rather shaky start, he settled down to play a very solid game.  The 2 Buffalo goals, which came 5 seconds apart in the third period and were both scored by Nathan Gerbe, were just great goals and it did not take away from Poulin’s performance all that much.  In fact, if it wasn’t for Poulin coming up with several big saves, the Sabers could have very well come back to win in the end.

The closing moments of the game, to me, typified the team spirit and unity of the Islanders.  Initially, Michael Grabner had an easy chance to score the empty net goal, but selflessly passed the puck to Kyle Okposo to attempt to give Okie his first goal of the season.  However, Kyle missed wide, and then Travis Hamonic also could not find the twine when Grabner got the puck to him.  In the end, Grabner had to put in the final goal with 2 seconds left on the clock.

Round 3 against Buffalo comes tomorrow at the NVMC.  I would expect the Sabers to come out with quite a bit more fire and determination.  DP, I would think, will be back in net for the Isles.  Hopefully, the Islanders will get back to playing a consistent, spirited effort on their end and not allow the opponent to tilt the ice against them for long stretches.  Frankly, to me, we dodged more than a few bullets last night, so I hope that is addressed by Jack Capuano and the staff by tomorrow afternoon.

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