Phil Kessel scored twice and added an assist as the Toronto Maple Leafs dominated the second period en route to a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum Tuesday night. After a well played first period, the Isles came out flat in the second and were out hit, out shot, and out hustled up and down the ice. John Tavares drove on net and shot the puck wide which allowed the Leafs to break out of their zone, ultimately leading to Leo Komarov finding Kessel for the game-tying goal. From that point forward, it was all Toronto.
The Islanders were outshot 12-10 in the second period, but it felt more like 120-10. The Islanders could not keep possession of the puck and turnover after turnover led to chance after chance for Toronto. Kessel’s goal opened the flood gates for Toronto as Roman Polak and David Clarkson would each score once in the second period, and Kessel finished the scoring at 17:53 of the second off an “alley-oop” pass from James Van Riemsdyk to make it 5-2. Van Riemsdyk opened the scoring for the Leafs as he benefitted from a funky bounce off the Zamboni entrance, found himself all alone in the slot, and beat Jaroslav Halak to the stick side. Nick Leddy and Tavares each scored for New York in the first period. Tavares now leads the league in scoring with 10 points (3 Goals, 7 Assists).
Halak was pulled after the second period, although he wasn’t necessarily the only person to blame for all 5 goals, and replaced with Chad Johnson. Johnson will also most likely get the start Thursday night against his former team when the Isles travel to Boston to take on the Bruins. Another personnel change came after the second when Head Coach Jack Capuano placed Nikolay Kulemin on the first line left wing spot with Tavares and Kyle Okposo. The third period showed a much better effort from the Isles, but they couldn’t finish anything, and Jonathan Bernier played well to keep the score at 5-2.
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– Thomas Hickey left the game in the third period with what appeared to be a nasty cut to his face. It appeared that Hickey, who had moments earlier lost his stick, was cut by a skate when he dove trying to make a play in the neutral zone. He was immediately rushed to the locker room and it is unclear what his status is.
– Chad Johnson played well in the third period stopping all 5 shots he saw. Expect him to start in Boston.
– Calvin de Haan was whistled for an illegal check to the head on Clarkson in the third period. While de Haan told reporters after the game that he was not looking to injure anyone, he will most likely be getting a phone call from the league offices about that hit, and possibly a fine/suspension. If he is suspended, and that’s a big IF, it puts even more pressure on an already vulnerable defense corps. Capuano stated before the game that Lubomir Visnovsky was close to coming off injured reserve but if Lubo, Hickey and de Haan are all out for Thursday’s game, it’ll be a tall order for the Islanders to win.
1. Phil Kessel (2 Goals, 1 Assist, +3 Overall)
2. James Van Riemsdyk (1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2 Overall)
3. Leo Komarov (1 Assist, 0 Overall)