The Islanders, who are boasting the worst offense in the league with only a dismal 59 goals for (the second worst team is the L.A. Kings with 63), were heavily criticized for one specific thing over the past three months; not scoring enough goals. (Shocking, right?)
After being shutout several times this year, the Isles were becoming a one-trick pony; if the line of Moulson-Tavares-Parenteau wasn't scoring, then there wasn't anything to worry about if you were the opposing team. However, the Isles have been on a recent streak after coming away with points in their past six games played.
The Islanders won a hard fought 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night, and it can be termed hard fought for many reasons; the Isles saw a three-goal lead get washed away to a tie in the second period; Rick DiPietro pulled his groin, forcing Al Montoya to start the third period; the Stars kept coming back on the score board; and last but not least, Nino Niederreiter left the game with a concussion after a devastating hit from Stars defenseman, Mark Fistric.
When the New York Islanders last welcomed the Tampa Bay Lightning to Nassau Coliseum, it took just 36 seconds for them to establish their lead and roll to a 5-1 victory.
On Tuesday night, the Islanders allowed Tampa to score first, but the result would end up exactly the same.
Al Montoya, whose fine play has been carrying the Isles of late (with his 2.17 Goals Against Average and .931 save percentage coming in to the contest) started in goal. The Islanders faced Mathieu Garon in the other end.
Though they fired the first five shots of the game, none got past Garon. When Tampa Bay was able to get their first shot on net, a blast from the stick of Brett Clark near the point, Martin St. Louis redirected it past Montoya for his 800th career NHL point.
The Islanders return home for a 3 game home stand tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are coming off on a 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators last night. The Isles are coming off a 5-4 win over Dallas which may be referred to in the future as the "Moulson Game".
The Lightning have had a struggling season so far. At 11-13-2, the Bolts turn to their leading scorer Steven Stamkos (16 goals, 13 assists, to get them over .500. There is a defenseman the Lightning acquired over the offseason that has been putting points on the board in when he is in the lineup; hold on to your hats here Isles fans, but that player is Bruno Gervais. Gervais has 2 goals, 1 assist in 7 games so far this season for the Bolts and it seems as if he has found his fit in Tampa.
The Islanders come off of a 5-4 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks to face the Dallas Stars. The Stars enter the game being a banged up team with a record of 15-9-1.
The Stars will start goaltender Andrew Raycroft, who has taken over the starting role recently after Kari Lehtonen substained an injury. Raycroft, the 31 year old netminder on his sixth NHL team, seems to have finally found the right home for him. Raycroft played earlier in his career with Boston, Toronto, Colorado, and Vancouver.
The Stars have had the offensive touch from Eric Nystrom lately, putting up points in 5 of his last 6 games.
The Islanders need to play the game they have been playing for the past week; putting pucks on net instead of just dumping the puck into the zone.
Although Jack Capuano has not announced tonight's starting goaltender, it would be assumed that Al Montoya will be the started. Montoya has been on fire this past week and there is absolutely no reason to sit him.
Coach Capuano should not have to scramble his lines for tonight's game looking back at last night's game. It is his defense he needs to be concerned about. It's usually the little things the defense does that cost the team and Jack needs to make sure the defense is on top of their game.
Tonight is meeting 1 of 2 this season between these two team and it should be an exciting one based on how these teams have been playing as of late.
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Friday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks was arguably the most exciting game the Islanders have played in all season. The Islanders came into this game looking for their third straight win but came out with a well deserved point.
The Chicago native Al Montoya was the one chosen by Jack Capuano to start for the Isles. Montoya, playing in his third straight game, made some unbelievable saves throughout the whole matchup. Facing the Islanders was the 26 year old Corey Crawford.
But enough about the goaltenders, let's talk about the offense. It was a real positive to see the Islanders scoring creative goals. Poking at rebounds and capitalizing on special teams. In past games, the Isles have used the dump and chase method, which obviously has not been working. It was great to see players go to the next and try to make a play instead of players just throwing the puck at the net and hoping for the best.
Chicago's penalty kill has not been the best this season and the Islanders definitely capitalized, scoring two goals with the man advantage. But the Blackhawks had their share of capitalizing on special teams as well. Chicago was able to score a powerplay goal and a shorthanded goal against the Isles.
The goalscorers for the Islanders tonight were Kyle Okposo, Matt Moulson, PA Parenteau, and scoring his first goal of the season was Nino Niederreiter. Focusing on Okposo, it really seems as if he is in his required game shape. He is making plays and hustling much better than he had in the beginning of the season.
The Blackhawks offense never quits either; with goals coming from Andrew Brunette, Ben Smith, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Sharp.
So it came down to a shootout. Jonathan Toews was lone scorer and was able to claim victory over the New York Islanders, 5-4.
If the Islanders can play the way they have played in the last week for the rest of the season, they will be in good shape.
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Don't forget to follow me on Twitter! (@EvanPivnickNYI)