That is what it takes to win a hockey game
The statement is quite cliche, but it really says a lot.
The first two Islander games this season, did not see a lot of non-stop solid play for a full period, let alone a full game.
Last Saturday, there were ‘minutes’ of spurts, but to no avail, as they lost 2-0.
For Monday, the first period was quite strong, as the Isles squeaked the 2-1 victory from Minnesota.
Last night – totally different story.
From the drop of the puck and to the “GIFT” from Victor Hedman, the Isles were on their game, and showed a complete and total team effort from start to finish, as a 5-1 hammering of Tampa Bay was the result.
John Tavares was outstanding, obtaining all of his four points in the first stanza. His gift goal came only about 35 seconds into the match. His second was the third goal about 14 minutes in, giving the fans some free chili! He assisted on Matt Moulson’s first a few minutes after he tallied his first, and set up PA Parenteau brilliantly for the fourth goal just before the period came to an end. For not scoring in the first two, and just trying so hard, he seemed to be in the right place at the right time throughout that period.
Hedman, quite embarassed from the own goal, took it out on Tavares in the second frame, slamming him to the boards, with an apparent cramp in the leg resulting from the hit. JT got his aggressions out on Hedman in the third period. He (Tavares) did not miss a shift until late in the game when he went to the dressing room. Marty Reasoner took the ‘1st star skate’ for JT when the game ended.
Marty – nice try – but you will not pass for #91.
Michael Grabner made a nice play swatting a puck in the air past old friend Dwayne Roloson to give the Isles the 5-1 lead, which would stick from the mid second period to conclusion. That spelled the end for the just turned 42 year old goalie, who just did not have it last night. Matthieu Garon did not give up any goals as Roloson’s replacement.
Al Montoya – sheesh – what other superlatives can we come up with for him. He was just spectaular all night. Even the one goal that he gave up was a deflection from Steven Stamkos. He has risen to the challenge, and took the reins of the goaltending position for the Islanders. He should get the nod again tomorrow, as he faces the team that drafted him; the New York Rangers, who have not played a game since Helsinki a week ago.
The defense was physical and taking charge of their zone, keeping the Tampa front line to the outside as much as possible. When they did drive to the net, the defense and Montoya was waiting for them.
A total 60 minute effort for the Isles, a gameplan that they want to take into tomorrow as their old friends come into town. What will the Rangers bring for the boys in Blue and Orange? Will they be so fired up to play on US Soil? How many of their fans will be around…? These and other questions will be answered a little more than 24 hours from now.
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