JT & The Islanders Answer the Bell
By Scotty Bonner
Matty Power Play
Uniondale, N.Y.–Yes! Finally! and Thank you!
“Ding Ding.” As requested the New York Islanders finally answered the bell! In what was their biggest win of the season the New York Islanders handed the conference leading Montreal Canadiens a 6-3 defeat at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum last night.
Coming into tonight’s game due to their much improved play over the last two contests the Islanders found themselves with yet another opportunity to get involved in the playoff discussion.
Previously this season every time the Isles would get up to the door of the playoff picture they’d would simply play ring and run. Not tonight folks! Tonight the Isles kicked down the door and invited themselves to the party… WE’RE HERE !!
The tone was set right from the drop of the puck when the Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey line immediately got the puck deep, forced a turn over, and created a good scoring chance on the very first shift of the game. The boys had a jump in their skates with a sense of urgency right from the get go last night.
Shortly after on the Tavares line’s first shift Matt Moulson took a sweet feed from Brad Boyes and rang it off the dinner bell, but no one was hungry enough to answer the call for supper what do you suppose was wrong with Mama’s cookin? The Isles were buzz, buzz, buzzing early, I was pleased.
However, it would be the Habs who struck first, on what was one of our few defensive miscues of the evening as Michael Ryder blew by Thomas Hickey at the blue line. Then proceeded to maul Radek Martinek off behind the side of the net, suddenly the puck was in front, and before the cameraman knew where it was the lamp was lit and it was 1-0 Les Habitants… “Good feeling gone.”
That’s how the first stanza would end with the Habs up 1-0. Montreal outshot the Isles 9-6 in the first in what was a good hard hitting first period by both clubs. Highlighted by the Casey Cizikas planting of Alex Galchenyuk.
Although down by one there were some noteworthy performances from the 1st stanza.
- Travis Hamonic played with that edge, and offensive awareness he had earlier in the season. It would appear as though young Travis didn’t appreciate his +/- rating being ever so publically on display in yesterday’s edition of Newsday, and his play in the first period reflected his displeasure.
- Kyle Okposo continued to fulfill the “Okposo Prophecy” which stated after the Leaf’s game that this new found excellent (yes I used the word excellent and Kyle Okposo in the same sentence) play would become the norm, and it certainly was tonight. He was arguably our best player in the first, and that would continue for the remainder of the contest.
JAN BRADY STANZA
At 1:23 of the second period something happened that is almost as rare as a Halley’s comet sighting. Matt Moulson scored a power play goal, and John Tavares was not on the ice with him. Breaking a streak of 70 consecutive goals scored by Moulson with JT on the ice… It was rumored but not confirmed that Moulson later apologized to Tavares who has yet to accept it.
Then the 2nd period got fun! in a span of 48 seconds the game went from a 1-1 stalemate to a 3-1 Islander lead. When Matt Martin, and Michael Grabner tallied respectfully. The Isles were coming off of an abbreviated 5-3 advantage almost midway through the 2nd when Matt Martin finished with authority a sweet dish from Boyes for the Isles second power play goal of the night.
Ahhhhh back in the day if the Isles scored 2 power play goals at home, and won the game it’d be free taco day at Taco Bell. TACOS!!!!… But I (begrudgingly) digress…
Matty Martin, this kid is all that is right with our OrganIzation. He is one heck of a hockey player, who just does everything right. He hits, hard, often, and clean. He gets the puck deep, and keeps the game simple. He has good hands, he’s a darn good skater, and he will drop the gloves with anyone if need be. I haven’t liked a player this much since one Hubbie McDonough, and that’s saying something folks! I for one was very fired up to see him on the power play. Two words for ya LONG OVERDUE!! Matt Martin is the heart and soul of these New York Islanders.
With a 3-1 lead and the period dwindling down the Canadiens received an abbreviated 5-3 power play of their own. With 3:11 left in the 2nd the combination of Andrei Markov, and P.K. Subban cris-crossed at the blue line as Markov fed Subban who just unleashed a filthy cannon to make it 3-2.
P.K. Subban is the nastiest young defenseman in the league, and his skills were on full display this evening as he registered a goal, and an assist while having a game best 7 shots on goal. Nassty…
It won’t show up anywhere in the box score, but with under 30 seconds left Evgeni Nabokov made two outstanding saves off of P.K. Subban to maintain the Isles 1 goal lead heading into the locker room for the 2nd intermission. Had Nabokov not stood tall down the stretch of the 2nd period, the air, the life would have been sucked out of the arena, as the Isles would have headed to the locker room having blown a two goal lead. Nabokov’s play at the end of the 2nd was one of many examples this evening that just perhaps the Isles are beginning to turn the corner and can will themselves into the playoff conversation… Just perhaps…
Good thing Nabokov had made those saves because for the first 7 minutes of the third period I could not believe my eyes. After playing so well for 40 minutes the Isles came out dead, not flat, dead. Suddenly and without cause they stopped skating, hitting, and began turning the puck over as if they thought they could just hold on for 20 minutes and hope for the best.
Well at the 6:07 mark of the 3rd Brian Gionta knotted the game at 3 on the second Canadien power play goal of the evening.. Great now I’m thinking “how do you say taco in French?”
The Isles lackadaisical play had cost them the lead, and worse yet now even a point itself was in jeopardy. I was so displeased!
Then Kyle Okposo made the play of the year for him, and perhaps his career on the go ahead goal by the suddenly inserted old Islander war horse Radek Martinek. Watch this play as Okposo wills his way into the corner first, to win the puck from the Canadien defenseman, and get it back to the point for the shot by Martinek.
It is that kind of effort by Kyle Okposo that gives me hope. It is that kind of effort by Kyle Okposo that is needed not only by him but everyone in the Blue, orange, and white sweaters night in and night out if we are to be invited to the dance at April’s conclusion.
The remainder of the period saw much of the same from the New York Islanders, simply being much more physical then there counterparts, and to coach Jack Capuano‘s credit, his club just seemed to want it more.
It remained a one goal game until the man called out in the pre game piece as needing to step up and put the club on his back delivered the dagger to the Canadien’s heart. John Tavares put his seal on this one giving the Isles a 5-3 lead with his 14th of the year with less then 1:10 to go as again Brad Boyes slivered a smooth little pass over to Jonny Franchise, and he left no doubt.
Matt Martin again showed why he is my favorite player as he choose to slide the puck over to Colin Mcdonald for the empty netter rather then scoring himself bringing the final tally to 6-3.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
12 Islanders got points tonight, with 6 different goal scorers, and 4 Isles Thomas Hickey, Boyes, Martin, and Tavares recorded multiple point efforts. Hamonic, and Andrew MacDonald were a +1, and the defense for as makeshift as it is played well again tonight.
AT THE END OF THE DAY
I’m please, so very pleased. This victory tonight is a very miniscule step towards our end goal which is of course another Stanley Cup Dynasty. Finally tonight we saw our team appear as though they belong in the post season discussion. Finally we have a big game coming up Thursday, not because of who the opponent is, but because of both our places in the standings. Finally we have a leader who did exactly what was expected of him, and willed us to victory. Finally at least for one night our optimism was not misguided.
THURSDAY NIGHT MANO-A-MANO
Tonight’s 6-3 Islander victory sets up a huge game at the Coliseum on Thursday night between the Islanders and the Rangers. One that you can bet every New York hockey fan will be glued to the TV for. The Rangers handled their business at the Garden tonight 4-2 versus the Flyers to maintain their 2 point lead over the Isles while leap frogging into the 8th and final playoff spot in the Prince of Wales Conference.
- Congrats to Brian Gionta and Les Habitants for recording their 20,000 goal in that storied franchise’s history.
- Happy Anniversary to Mike Bossy who 28 years ago yesterday became the first NHL player ever to record 8 consecutive 50 goal seasons.
- Islander fans are starting to get all fired up… As well we should might I add!
OOOHHH MYYYY Rangers the 8 seed, Isles just 2 points behind them… Thursday night’s going to be fun… And who said a shortened season is nothing to get excited about??? Who’s fiaaaaaarrreeed up? Is it Thursday yet ?
Trying to capture the Spirit of the Thing
P.S. Have a Nice Day !! :0)
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