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New York Islanders: Must Move On And Shake Off Ugly Loss

By Michael Iuzzini
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It is now a best of five series as the Islanders and Capitals head over to the Island for games three and four.

It looked as if the Islanders were on their way to going up 2-0 against the Capitals.  First the Capitals were to be without their number one keeper Braden Holtby who was out with a sickness.  His replacement, rookie Philipp Grubauer.

In a perfect world the Isles would have taken complete advantage with the kid in net.  They would have peppered him with shots and completely seized the game and series.  That never happened.  What did happen was two blown two goal leads.  A whole ton of play in their own zone and a possible investigation into the possibility the Capitals may have tampered with the Isles sticks.  (The last part is a joke.)

Everything looked to be all Isles after Ryan Strome scored his second goal of the series putting them up 2-0.  The Islanders had the momentum and silenced the Washington crowed.  After that, the Isles started to crack, literally.

The Caps scored their first goal on what turned out to be a man advantage as Matt Martin’s stick broke and caused the Isles to be down a man.  The Isles could not gain control of the puck as the Caps controlled the play as if they were on the powerplay and scored their first of the game.  The crowed was back in it and the Capitals were starting to surge.

Kyle Okposo put a muzzle on the fans just a little under three minutes later scoring a pretty goal and giving the Islanders a two goal lead again.  That was the Isles highpoint as the wheels to this magical bus simply fell off.

Alex Ovechkin scored his first of the series with what was the second time the Islanders being down a man because of a broken stick.  Okposo was the victim this time.  Once more the Islanders could not gain control in their own zone.  The play inevitably led to a Capitals goal, pulling them within one to close out the period.

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The Islanders still had the lead and needed to come out hard and finally put some pressure on the rookie netminder.  That never happened.  Instead they floundered around in their own zone and looked like a deer in headlights as the Caps buried two unanswered goals and took the lead for the first time in the series.

The Islanders could not find their rhythm and were outworked and played for the remainder of the game.

A tough loss cannot set the team back.  The playoffs are a long windy road.  There are going to bad nights and great nights.  So the Isles wanted to get the bad night out-of-the-way.  They are coming home where there are going to be 16,000 plus representing the sixth skater.  The Barn is going to be at its best.

The team is well aware what went wrong.  They know that they failed in taking advantage of a rookie goalie.  They failed in keeping a lead.  What they cannot do is fail mentally.  The mental aspect of this game will crush you if you dwell on what could have and should have been a 2-0 lead.

John Tavares has been in the mix but yet to jump to that next playoff level.  A level where a superior athlete like himself finds the “zone” and nobody on the ice has better vision and play making ability then JT.  He has played well but there is another level of play needed to carry your team.  If JT finds it, the Isles will have no issues with Washington and move on.

So we wait for a Sunday matinée at the Coliseum.  The reality for all of us is every game now is truly one step closer to saying goodbye, but none of us are ready for that yet.

Next: New York Islanders: Steal Game One In Washington

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