When you hear that the Islanders and Penguins are facing each other again, the first thought that pops into the average NHL fan's mind is the February 11th game (or "The Brawl Game" as I like to call it) when these two teams went over 400 penalty minutes. But that game is in the past, tonight the Isles face the Pens in search of two points and move up in the standings.
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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