Preseason Game 3: Islanders Fall to the Hurricanes

Following a split squad doubleheader in St. John’s Newfoundland, the New York Islanders returned home to host the Carolina Hurricanes in their third preseason contest, losing by a final score of 4-2. Many of the “locks” to make the Islanders opening night roster were in the lineup and starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak went the full 60 minutes. In this game recap, I will give you a brief wrap up of the game as well as some of my own thoughts on how the Islanders roster looks going forward.

The game got off to a bit of a slow start with both teams just trying to get their legs underneath them. In the first the Isles had trouble putting pressure on the Hurricanes and were on their heels for most of the frame. But the scoreless tie was broken with Ryan Murphy beating Halak with a snapshot on the red hot Canes powerplay 8:29 into the first period.

Then it was onto the second period at the Coliseum, where the visiting team got on the Isles early as Jeff Skinner scored once again on the man advantage just 53 seconds into the period. Following that it was the Brett Bellemore show. The Canes defenseman committed three consecutive penalties capped off by an elbowing minor on T.J. Brennan which had the Isles up in arms. As soon as Bellemore got out of the box following his third minor penalty, New York’s fourth line was waiting with closed fists. Martin fought Bellemore and both receieved major penalties for the scrap. Oh and by the way, the Isles failed to capitalize on all of this time on the man advantage.

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Then it was onto the third where the ice began to open up a bit. Carolina scored on an Andrej Sekera blast just 3:16 into the final frame, a goal that would prove to be the difference. But the Islanders answered quickly – VERY quickly. Just ten seconds later, Casey Cizikas showed off his speed and skill, beating goalie Drew MacIntyre on a nice one on one move while shorthanded. No other goals were scored for the next 14 minutes, until Nathan Gerbe capitalized on a poorly executed defensive change by the Isles to make it 4-1. But again the Isles answered quickly, as Ryan Strome tipped home a Griffin Reinhart pass from the point to tighten the gap. But it was not enough for New York, as they dropped the game 4-2.

Now for some of my own thoughts: 

  • The special teams were anything but special for the Isles tonight. New York allowed three powerplay goals and went 0/5 on their own man advantage. They struggled to create traffic on the powerplay and on the penalty kill, they got hemmed in their own zone way too often. Obviously when your two top pair defenders aren’t in there your kill won’t look too good, but nonetheless these areas didn’t exactly inject me with confidence tonight.
  • Jaroslav Halak will come around. The Isles starting netminder didn’t look great tonight, but didn’t look terrible either. I wouldn’t be concerned at all, that’s what the preseason is for.
  • Griffin Reinhart and Ville Pokka were both very solid on the blue line tonight for the Isles. They both played just like advertised, and I was very happy with their poise and mobility, considering their size.
  • The line of Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome and Anders Lee was definitely the Isles most impressive line tonight. When they were on the ice they carried a lot of the posssession and all three of those guys look hungry for a spot on the opening night roster, which is great to see.
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    • How about Jack Skille? On day one of free agency this season, the Isles signed Skille to a one year deal, a move that’s beginning to look very smart. Skille has impressed me very much both on Monday and tonight. With the goal on Monday and showing off his speed and excellent play along the boards, he has given himself a egitimate shot at making the roster. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know much about Skille coming into camp, but I’m a big fan of the way he plays now.
    • Lubomir Visnovsky looks fully healthy and willing to jump in on the offensive side of the puck which is obviously great news for the Islanders.
    • The first line of Mikhail Grabovski, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo was an interesting combination and after a while they seemed to figure it out. They had a couple of shifts in which they had the Canes on their heels for a long time, but couldn’t capitalize on these opportunities. It was an interesting trio although I’m certain we won’t see this in the regular season.
    • I was happy to see Matt Martin stick up for his teammate and engage in a fight, something he didn’t do enough of last season in my opinion.
    • After the game, T.J. Brennan said he was unhurt on a dirty elbow by Brett Bellemore once he exited the box. “Just a cheap shot” said Brennan following the game.

    Fan Reaction “I’m a little nervous… Especially since Halak looked poor, imo (in my opinion)”-@KCCO27

    “Didn’t look good esp(ecially) PP and PK thought Cappy was workin on special teams looked real bad.”-@JohnZawaski

    The Isles will take on the Devils in their fourth and final preseason contest on Friday, September 26th at the Barclays Center. Cuts will occur over the weekend, with AHL camp opening on Monday.