Frans “Automatic” Nielsen Gives Isles Shootout Victory Again
By Gary Harding
Rumor mill has it that before Frans Nielsen goes off to the shootout, he utters the following phrase:
"GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY!"
For the second straight game, Nielsen made his patented backhand flip to the top of the net, giving the Islanders the 2-0 lead in the shootout, getting the extra point in the 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre.
Each time that the Islanders scored on Winnipeg, the Jets countered to even the score. Each period’s conclusion was a tie. No goals were scored in the third period or the overtime.
Goaltender Al Montoya suffered an apparent head injury when Jets forward Evander Kane barreled into him, while leaving his skates, causing a 2 minute penalty. In the humble opinion of this writer, this play is no different than any of the head shots to the boards. This should also be a penalty that should be looked into by the NHL powers that be.
PA Parenteau opened the scoring on a great pass from Matt Moulson shooting into an empty net. John Tavares also got a helper, setting the play up.
Michael Grabner, received a gift from Manitoba native Travis Hamonic and got the puck in front of the net, which was tapped in – to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead early in the second period. Andrew Ladd snapped a shot passed Montoya to even up the score at 2.
The score was even at two after the third and the overtime. The Jets had outshot the Isles in the second, third and overtime. It seemed that around the mid point of the game, the Islanders seemed to be carrying the momentum. They were winning the puck battles, the one-on-one issues, at times not giving the Jet the opportunity to get into the Islanders zone.
Then the Jets began to take over.
Montoya was knocked out of the game with about 100 seconds remaining in the second period. Evgeni Nabokov got into his first action in nearly a month; and despite being brought in cold, he did not disappoint. Nabokov made 19 saves, and two in the shootout. He did not look out of place, and moved side to side quite well.
PA Parenteau scored the first shootout goal when he blasted a shot at full speed. Nabokov saved shots from Blake Wheeler, and Kyle Wellwood. Then Nielsen made his shot count, and gave the Isles the much deserved victory. The Isles are now 5-1-1 in their last seven road contests, and have a game tomorrow night at MSG against the Rangers, who defeated the Devils 4-1 on Tuesday night. The Rangers are on fire, and this game is will be a real test of how the Islanders play has been of late. Twenty-four hours later, the Toronto Maple Leafs come into town for a pre-Christmas contest.
It is nice to know that when the ‘skills contest’ is in play, that the Islanders are now having a solid chance to beat their opponents. And thanks to Hamonic, about 120 people among the 15,000 folks at the MTS Centre were happy for the results.
Bring on the Rangers!