Was it appropro that the man that got the final goal in the 1983 Stanley Cup Final against the Edmonton Oilers be honored against the same organization?
Many may think so – but for Islander fans, they will indeed take it.
Before the game, Ken Morrow was given the honor of being inducted into the Islanders Hall of Fame. The former US Olympian and four time Stanley Cup winner, quietly accepted his honor with grace and dignity.
To the game, it was the outstanding play of the top line of John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo, along with the disciplined play of Matt Martin, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 in front of 13,807 at the Nassau Coliseum.
To the knowledgeable hockey fan, this was a lot of fast skating and up and down play on both sides of the ice. The young guns of the Oilers were showing their skill level from the drop of the puck. The Islanders were doing exactly the same.
Where Matt Martin took over the game, was in the enforcement department. Oiler forward Ben Eager was going after Martin when he drilled Tom Gilbert of the Oilers. Eager retaliated. On the ensuing power play, PA Parenteau makes a toe drag around the Oiler defender, and the puck was waiting for John Tavares, who pushed the puck to an empty net, making the Isles leading 1-0. Butch Goring, during the broadcast of the game said that Tavares… “looks like a big cat waltzing around in the jungle.”
At the 13 minute mark of the period, Sam Gagner was interfering with goaltender Evgeni Nabokov on a shot by Corey Potter, and somehow managed to get the puck in the net to tie up the game at 1.
As the second period came to a close, Matt Moulson who had a goal disallowed just seconds after the Oilers tied it, received a spin pass from Tavares, past two Oiler players and was able to put the puck past Devin Dubnyk to give the Isles the lead for good. Moulson scored his team leading 17th goal of the season, and is on pace to surpass his 31 goals from a season prior.
In the second period, Matt Martin hit Ladislav Smid, but instead of laying into him, he let up on the hit. Again, Ben Eager was looking to ‘dude it up’ with Martin, and dropped the gloves. Martin just stood there, and caused the Islanders to get another power play. In this case, the Islanders cashed in again. PA Parenteau got a pass from Moulson that he snapped from the face off circle, and gave the Isles a 3-1 lead.
Just 46 seconds later, Matt Martin, just throwing the puck in from a steep angle, gets a goal to give the Isles the 4-1 lead. It has always been said that if you fire the puck at the net, good things can happen. So even though Martin only got one point, he caused two other goals to happen.
Ben Eager, who was the culprit for the Oilers, got another penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and a misconduct. He did not see another shift for the rest of the game.
Midway through the second period, Tavares was slammed at center ice on an extremely late hit by former Islander Andy Sutton, fresh off an eight game suspension for a cheap hit. Tavares left the ice, but returned a few minutes later. Sutton, according to reports from the media after the game, went to see Tavares to offer an apology for the late hit.
Although the top players were on the scoresheet, the Islanders were getting contributions from all four lines. I liked the way that Nino Niederreiter was playing. He was physical around the net, and worked hard in his fourth line duty. I feel that he needs to get more time to show his stuff. I think that his languishing on the last line, can be detrimental to his development.
This was a nice way for the Isles to end the year 2011. I only wish that we can play the province of Alberta all the time. We could win the Cup that way. Anyhow, a few days of rest, and off to Carolina for a date with our former friend Kirk Muller and the Carolina Hurricanes. Hopefully, the two wins to end the year, and the Morrow celebration will be a stepping stone for better things to come in Islanders country!
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