What a game. It had to be one of the most entertaining and emotionally satisfying games I’ve witness for the Isles in a long time. Besides beating the Pittsburgh Penguins at home 9-3, there was plenty of fireworks and an overall, emotional victory for the fans and players as well.
I don’t even know where to start with this game. It was just riveting from literally beginning to end. So, I’ll first just list the aspects that I found to be the most telling or “significant”. These are in no particular order either.
• The Isles jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first period, led 6-0 in the second and went into the third period leading 8-2. Talk about scoring the first goal of a game and then running with it.
• The boys put up 9 goals for the first time this season and scored 7 of them on Brent Johnson to boot.
• Michael Grabner, John Tavares and Matt Moulson all hit or surpassed the 20 goal mark for the season. JT scored his 20th, Grabner got his 20th and 21st, and Moulson also picked up his 20th and 21st goals of the campaign.
• Travis Hamonic got the “Gordie Howe” hat trick with a goal, and assist and a fight. Nice job, Hammer! Oh, and he got ejected from the game too ….
• No matter what should happen to Micheal Haley in his career, he sure has a fan in me. What a game from the guy, and congratulations on his first NHL goal. And 2 fights in the same sequence and 3 for the game! I have no problems with him having gone after Brent Johnson either.
• Max Talbot was a marked man. It was great to see the Isles stand up for one another and send plenty of messages to an opposing team. We’ve been pushed around a bit too much at times and too much crap has not gone unanswered.
• My hats off to Matt Martin, Zenon Konopka and Trevor Gillies for also responding as necessary. That’s what having guys in the lineup like them is for. Some might not like it, but reality is what reality is.
A lot has been written and said about this game. Without a doubt, 15 fighting majors, 11 game ejections and 346 total penalty minutes is quite startlingly high totals for ANY hockey game. I expected it to be a very physical game, but I had no idea things would escalate to the levels that were reached. It surely wasn’t hockey to be “proud” of from the perspective of what makes the game “great”, yet emotion and passion were clearly demonstrated by a team that has had such a difficult season and has been ridiculed, abused and otherwise disparaged in so many ways. Unfortunately for them, the Penguins happened to step in front of the Islander train, though, personally, starting Brent Johnson was not exactly an intelligent choice by the Pens either, as, to me, this set the tone just as much as knowing Talbot would have to play with his head on a swivel.
And to the Penguins players and some of the jabrones in the media who have been writing and talking about the game, I find it rather amusing and surely hypocritical to be claiming that guys like Gillies and Haley were simply playing to “hurt” out there. This is coming from a team that carries Matt Cooke, probably one of the dirtiest and lowest forms of player in the league. And after Max Talbot hits Blake Comeau from behind, gives the guy a concussion and does not earn a deserved suspension. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but you can stuff a sock in it as far as I’m concerned. As the saying goes, you reap what you sow.
What is lost beyond the PIMs and game misconducts are the 9 goals, an offensive explosion we have not seen much in recent memory. Grabner and Moulson had 2 goals each, Tavares had 1, PA Parenteau had 1, Jesse Joensuu scored his 4th of the season, Haley had his 1st NHL goal, and Hamonic picked up his 2nd of the season. The Penguin goals all came on the power play, and besides one coming on a 5 on 3, in all cases, the Isles were also killing off 5 minute majors on top of just being shorthanded.
Let it also not get overlooked that Mikko Koskinen made 35 saves in the game, played extremely well and earned his 2nd win in back to back nights. The guy made some more spectacular saves, and deserved the victory. I think Al Montoya will get his first start tomorrow against Buffalo, but Koskinen has certainly made a statement as far as his future role on the team goes.
So, it will be interesting to see how this game is portrayed as the days pass. Without a doubt, there will be more than a few suspensions that will come from it. Also, a lot of talk about the state of the game and so forth. However, to Islander fans, us die hards, this will be one for the ages. For once, it was nice to see everything come together as far as the goals and emotion and team spirit is concerned. I really hope Butch Goring is right in that this game will really tighten up the team and enable them to really put some team efforts together the rest of the way through the season.
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