It is still a long shot, but the Islanders have once again pulled themselves into playoff conversation with a 1-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. Kyle Okposo scored the lone goal for the Isles while Anders Nilsson earned his first NHL win with a 24-save shutout performance that earned him first star honors on the night.
"Today I think all the guys out there put up a great job for me," said Nilsson. "The first two periods, I only had 12 shots and they blocked a lot of shots and when they got a shot through it was from the boards. They made it real easy for me to play out there today. They helped me out a lot."
Okposo concurred with Nilsson's belief that the Islanders played one of their best defensive games of the year, rivaling their previous defensive win over the Boston Bruins the night before.
The New York Islanders earned two points against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden before starting a three game series with the New Jersey Devils. Josh Bailey, Matt Moulson, and John Tavares all scored for the Islanders who picked up their first win since last Friday's 4-3 shootout victory against the New York Rangers. With the victory, the Isles moved within 7 points of the East's eighth playoff spot, but the standings are subject to change since New York played an early afternoon contest.
While the New York Islanders must be content with the effort that they put forth against the Bruins, the team knows they have a tough challenge to face when they play their first of three games against the Devils in less than 24 hours. Evgeni Nabokov might get the nod for his second start in two days as he did not look too tired during the post-game conference and was very sharp against a Bruins team that put up 34 shots on goal. Even though Nabokov came under siege at times, he was equal to the task and made some brilliant saves at key points of the contest.
The Islanders gave up a late two goal lead and lose to the Capitals in overtime. The game was mostly back and forth but in the end the Islanders didn’t finish the game the way they needed to in order to win.
The new lines seemed to be working out as the Islanders were first to strike in the first period when Josh Bailey made a few great moves to get to the net and bury a shot. The goal was Bailey’s 7th of the season and was assisted by Frans Nielsen and Andrew MacDonald. This gave the Islanders an early lead and the hope that they could take the Capitals off their game early. A sore spot of the Islanders coming into this game was their penalty kill, which was only 12-20 in their last six games. It was tested twice in the first period when Kyle Okposo took two-minutes for high sticking at 5:21 and not too much later at 10:23 Steve Staios got two-minutes for hooking. The Islanders were able to withstand the pressure from the Capitals and kill off both penalties. The first period was largely dominated by the Capitals as they outshot the Islanders 13-3.
The stage was set for an emotional carry over into Saturday morning regardless of the outcome of Friday night's Islanders/Rangers game; a win for the Isles against their biggest rival and top team in the Eastern Conference would keep their playoff hopes alive, but a loss to their number one foe would have been a crushing blow to their confidence and chances.
Fortunately, the orange and blue would come on top with a 4-3 shootout victory with Matt Moulson netting the finally tally in the fourth round.
Tensions were high at the start of the game and Matt Martin decided to ease things up a bit by fighting Stu Bickel just over two minutes into the game. Both got their licks in before Martin swung and missed, falling to the ice to end the fight early. A fair draw would set the tone for how evenly the game would be played.
Thomas Vanek and Tyler Myers both scored and Ryan Miller made 30 saves as the Sabres spoiled interim head coach Doug Weight’s coaching debut 2-1 on Tuesday Night.
Weight was appointed interim head coach for the game as head coach Jack Capuano dealt with a flu that has ravaged his lineup in the past three games. Evgeni Nabokov missed his third straight game dealing with the illness.
An all too similar start to the game forced the Islanders into an early 1-0 hole. Tyler Myers opened the scoring just 1:21 into the game. After a initial stop on Derek Roy, Myers found the rebound and snapped it over a prone Kevin Poulin. For the second straight game, the Islanders fell behind within the first 90 seconds.
The LA Kings travel to Long Island this afternoon for their only match up of the season against the Islanders. Both teams are looking to rebound from losses in their last games. Last season these teams met twice splitting the series. Both teams seem to be making a strong late season push which makes for a good match up.
The Islanders need to rebound from a bad performance last time out against the Canadians and pull out a win. The Islanders will still be short on defense with Hamonic and Reese still out. Capuano also said to expect some changes to the D pairings from the last game. Capuano also stated that he might change the line-up spots for Parenteau and Okposo. This would re-unite the line of Moulson, Tavares, and Parenteau which had such strong success earlier in the season. The starting goalie is also being kept under wraps until closer to game time, I would expect Montoya to get a start but you never know with Capuano. The Islanders do play another game tomorrow so I would expect Nabokov and Montoya to split the two games.
The Islanders made their first visit to Ottawa this season and were able to battle all game and come away with an important victory to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The game started slow with both teams going up and down the ice with not many chances generated. Nabokov was called on early in the period but the defense did a good job making sure most shot were from the outside and easily visible. The Islanders got a power play chance at 10:26 when former Islander Zenon Konopka took a hooking penalty. The first power play unit of Tavares, Moulson, Parenteau, Nielsen and Streit was very good creating several chances but unable to put them away. The second power play unit had some trouble but I like the group Capuano put together, the line was Rakhshani, Bailey, Neiderreiter, Okposo and MacDonald. The Islanders were unable to connect on the first power play but still kept the pressure up. It was a strong first period for the Islanders who outshot the Senators 14 to 8.
The season for the New York Islanders is more than halfway over, having completed Game 46 of the 82-game season last night with a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime. The win has brought the Isles to a 19-21-6 record putting them eight points out of a playoff spot behind the Washington Capitals sitting in the final, eigth spot.
As John Madonia pointed out in his post-game wrap up, these next two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs are crucial for the Islanders. For the first time in a few years, Islanders fans are able to find themselves in a position where they can start looking at the standings and sharing concerns about the success of other teams in their Conference. Two wins against the Leafs would hypothetically put the Isles at only four points out of the playoffs and see them with a .500 record.
The Isles are not in last in the Eastern Conference; they are currently out of the draft lottery; and John Tavares has emerged as an elite talent in the NHL. Part of the rebuild requires looking for signs of progress in all areas. Although those signs that are mentioned above don't necessarily amount to the hopes and dreams of most Islanders fans, they are still important. Slow and steady as she goes.