Isles blow 3rd period lead in Tampa – but it was a nice arena

Yes – I ended the streak.  Blame me, I am at fault.

Well – not really; but I know my friends will somehow put the blame on my shoulders.

When the game was half way into the second period, the Islanders were dominating the play, but on the score sheet, it was 2 – 0.   It was the Steven Stamkos show.  His 51st and his team record tying 52nd of the season pushed the home team to the early lead.

But to the hundreds and hundreds of Islander nation that were in attendance, and the 18 or so in my group (yea – I had to have “THEM” in my group – and believe it or not – a silly HABS fan), we were not convinced that this was a total Lightning landslide.

Frans Nielsen got the Isles on the board, and Kyle Okposo scored a backhand shot in the last minute of the second frame.  Both of the goals were in traffic in front of ol’ Islander goalie Dwayne Roloson.  Roloson had nearly 30 shots on him in the first two periods and it really seemed to be going the Islanders way.

Matt Moulson got a wrist shot off in the first shift of the third period, and all was good in Islander country.  The lines were flowing well, and kept the front line of the Bolts in check.  For eight minutes following the goal,  there were a lot of positives, and the third win in a row on the road, seemed to be a positive thought.

Yea – but WE are Islander fans, we know better.

Tom Pyatt got a tip-in in front of Al Montoya to make the score even at three.  Then three minutes later, Tim Wallace, goal-less in his 30+ games as an Islander this season, got a wrist shot in the net, and so another 3rd period lead again.

It was a tough period for the Islander fans to swallow.  Even the players had it tough.

“We had the big goal at the end of the second and a big goal to start the third,” John Tavares said to the media following the game. “You can’t ask for much more. Usually that’s able to carry a lot of momentum and we didn’t sustain it for the third period.”

However, talking about the arena, the Tampa Bay Times Forum (Formerly the St. Pete Times forum, formerly the Ice Palace), a major renovation happened during the summer, and this building that was a little dark is now bright and open.  Walls that were surrounding the concourse are now open on the main level, so that you can see around the arena.  There are lots of concessions, and in the club level, where I sat, there were two huge restaurants to enjoy.  At one end of the stadium, a huge organ is on a perch, that fans can stand around.  And when the Lightning come onto the ice or score a goal, there is a huge bolt of lightning coming from the top of the building.  Unfortunately, to the Islander fan, it happened too much for us.

Tonight – the Isles head down Alligator alley to face the Panthers in a 5 PM matinee.  The Panthers are in a dog fight for the South East Division lead.  They are going to be hungry for the two points, and despite the fact that the Islanders are nearly out of it – they are still playing with determination and passion.  I do not expect the team to ‘give it up’ and I hope you don’t too.

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