The New York Islanders went into last night's game looking to pull themselves to a .500 record but failed to do so, squandering a 3-1 first period lead to the Buffalo Sabres and losing by a score of 4-3 in the shootout.
Frans Nielsen would have a three point first period, scoring two goals and adding an assist to help get the Islanders to an early lead despite starting off slow. The Isles were out shot 17-9 in the first period and Al Montoya seemed a little shakey in net. It was only his second start after missing about a month's worth of playing time due to a concussion. His first start was before the All Star break, so it wasn't a surprise that he looked like he needed to shake the rust off. But he would respond well in the second and third periods, continuing to give his team a chance to win the whole night.
“We knew it was going to be a tough weekend,” said Montoya after the game. “[There were] huge points on the line. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t come out with two points.”
The Islanders look to build off their win from earlier in the week and start a second half playoff push with a game against Ottawa tomorrow night. The Islanders are currently riding a hot streak getting 5 out of a possible 6 points in the last 3 games. This has the Islanders only 9 points out of playoff spot with plenty of time left in the season.
A couple of the sparks in the Islanders last win were the Bridgeport call ups of Kevin Poulin and Rhett Rakhshani. Poulin made his contribution playing a great game between the pipes, which showed many fans why he is considered the goaltender of the future. Rakhshani was a great move in my eyes as he was a spark plug on a line with Matt Martin and Josh Bailey. The whole game the line was buzzing around the ice and creating chances. Hopefully they will get another chance in Ottawa to keep showing that they are improving their chances and create more secondary scoring which is what this team needs.
How many goaltenders will we see in an Isles uniform by the end of the season? That was a question that a few of my readers asked me before the start of the year. Last year the Islanders featured Dwayne Roloson, Rick DiPietro, Kevin Poulin, Mikko Koskinen, Al Montoya and Nathan Lawson. And oh yeah, they also tried to claim Evgeni Nabokov off waivers to only say, "No thanks" before joining the roster this year.
That's a total of six goalies (with a 7th one that rang off the post) that dressed for the New York Islanders in 2011. The count now is at five for this year between DiPietro, Montoya, Nabokov, Poulin and Anders Nilsson, who earned his first NHL start against the Pittsburgh Penguins the day that Sidney Crosby returned to action.
Koskinen has been playing for KalPa in the Finnish Elite League as John Link explains to us in his latest prospect report since there has been a crowd in the crease for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Both Poulin and Nilsson had been playing so well that there was simply not enough room for Koskinen, choosing him to opt for overseas play.
On this edition of the prospect report I will take a look at two Islanders goaltending prospects in the Islanders system and see where they could fit in with the team in the future. I will look at Mikko Koskinen and Cody Rosen, two goaltender prospects that are fighting for a spot in an already crowded Islanders crease.
Mikko Koskinen is a goalie prospect most Islanders fan are familiar with because he has already made his Islanders debut last season. He was drafted in the 2nd round (31st Overall) in the 2009 entry draft. The big Finnish goalie (6’-7” tall) is currently playing in the Finnish Elite League for KalPa. He was assigned to the league after the start of the current season when it was decided that having three goaltenders in Bridgeport was not a good plan for their development. His stats so far this season aren’t bad as he has currently played in 15 games, winning 8 of them with a 1.92 goals against average. These are very good stat for playing in a very good European league.
Well if there is one thing that can be taken away from the Islanders home-and-home series with the Toronto Maple Leafs, it's that the Leafs' entire roster should be considered as finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy that is handed out to the most disciplined player at this year's NHL Awards Ceremony.
Although the whistle was blown against the Leafs after a scuffle in their end erupted after a tussle between Travis Hamonic and Phil Kessel, not once did the Islanders earn a power play tonight to total 120 minutes of hockey without an Islanders man-advantage going back to last night. The Leafs managed to beat the Islanders 4-3 in over time to complete the two-game sweep.
The Islanders take to the ice tonight looking to respond after a tough lost last night to the Maple Leafs. Tonight will be the Islanders last chance to head into the All-Star break on a winning note. The Islanders and Maple Leafs also both look to keep playoff hopes alive with wins in tonight’s contest.
The Islanders are still only 9 points out of a playoff spot and after going out and laying a goose egg last night they need to play much better in tonight’s game. Capuano suggested that after last night’s game there could be some line-up changes. Those should be released later this morning but the only change I would truly like to see is the promotion of Nino Niederreitier and the demotion of Brian Rolston. In recent games we have all seen the improvement of play from Nino and he deserves more ice time and better line mates. In the case of Rolston, he just hasn’t played well recently and may need a demotion to find the fire he once had in his play. He is constantly missing the net on many great chances and is the cause of some turnovers. On a team that is struggling to find secondary scoring, mistakes from a veteran like that can’t happen.
Detroit Red Wings Goaltender Jimmy Howard has 99 career wins in his young National Hockey League career.
He will look for number 100 against the New York Islanders.
Easier said than done.
The New York Islanders have won three consecutive games against Howard and the Red Wings. In their last meeting on December 31, 2010, a 4-3 overtime win for the Isles, P.A Parenteau scored the game-winning power-play goal in the extra session.
Even with the recent success against the Wings, the 2011-12 Islanders are fading quickly in a tightly contested Eastern Conference. Their most recent road trip started out with a dramatic shoot-out victory in Carolina, followed up by a listless third period in a 4-2 loss at Anaheim and a 5-1 drubbing by the Phoenix Coyotes that saw Shane Doan collect his first hat trick in 1160 career games. Evgeni Nabokov started his 9th straight game for the Isles and took the loss. He allowed five goals, including the 3rd goal by Doan with 0.1 left on the clock.
It was reported yesterday that Rick DiPietro was being sent home for medical evaluations before the road trip even began as he had sustained yet another injury to add to the many setbacks of his career. Mike Mottau was also returned to Long Island with an upper-body injury. However, the story surrounding DiPietro is that this guy hadn't been playing; he was already on the Injured Reserve.
You have to wonder how a guy like Rick finds a way to injure himself while he is already...well...injured. He wasn't playing in games, although he had been skating on the ice. And according to Art Staple of Newsday, DiPietro wasn't even close to dressing as a back-up for any of the games on this road trip that saw them play Carolina last night, Anaheim on Friday and Phoenix on Saturday.
The Islanders are heading into the Big Apple to face their archrivals, the New York Rangers. Coming off back-to-back shootout wins (courtesy of Frans Neilsen and his patented forehand-backhand-top shelf move), the young Isles team is carrying a bit of momentum into the World’s Greatest Arena. They are playing with more confidence and finding ways to win hockey games.
This is a good thing. Because they will need every ounce of momentum, confidence, skill, (and maybe even a little luck) to leave Madison Square Garden with 2 points against the Rangers in tonight’s contest.
The Rangers (with 3 games in hand) are currently tied for 2nd in the Atlantic Division with the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they each have managed 42 points so far this season.