New York Islanders Battle Their Way to Two Points
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. (Robert Kowal/Flickr)
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.
On the other hand, Josh Bailey continued his white-hot play on the wing as he scored the Isles' first goal at the 17:36 mark of the first period. It seemed as though the Bruins would go into the first intermission with momentum on their side after Milan Lucic scored a power-play goal with under 5 minutes left in the opening frame, but Bailey quickly responded and made sure the Islanders had a clean slate to work with at the start of the second period.
The only scoring in the second period came off the stick of Matt Moulson as the forward scored his team leading 28th goal on the New York man-advantage. Even though Moulson gave the Islanders a lead heading into the third period, Tyler Seguin tied the game at 2 as he beat Andrew MacDonald and Evgeni Nabokov for the equalizer at 7:29 of the third period. The game looked as though it would need to be decided by an extra session, but a non-icing call by the referees worked in the Isles' favor. With under 5 minutes left to play in the third period, it appeared as though the Bruins had iced the puck, but a whistle did not blow as Andrew MacDonald touched the puck.
Since a whistle wasn't blown, MacDonald moved the puck and found Matt Moulson who fired a shot that John Tavares tipped in behind Tim Thomas. The Boston Bruins tried hard to tie up the game with Tim Thomas on the bench, but Evgeni Nabokov stood tall when the Islanders needed him the most and sealed the regulation victory for his team. While both teams played a solid all-around game in the afternoon contest, the Islanders battled for 60 minutes and worked for their two points. Matching up with the Devils will not be an easy task, but the Islanders cannot afford to think about how difficult their remaining games will be as they have to win roughly 15 of their last 17 games to keep pace with the teams fighting for the 8th and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.
The special teams for the New York Islanders showed up against the Boston Bruins and their persistent play was part of the reason that the Isles came away with two points. Even though New York was unable to prevent the Bruins from scoring on their second power-play opportunity, the team did not allow Boston to score with the man-advantage for the rest of the game. The PK units responded during this afternoon's contest, but Evgeni Nabokov was the most important penalty killer for the Islanders and the netminder earned the praise of head coach Jack Capuano during the post-game interview.
With 17 games left on their regular season schedule, the Islanders are not ready to concede and play out the season as though it were a lost cause. Getting into the East's final playoff spot might be a stretch, but it is great to see that the Isles are still playing inspired and determined hockey, even if statistics might not be playing in their favor. Beating the New Jersey Devils will not be an easy task for the Islanders, but the team must come out playing the same physical brand of hockey that they committed to in their win against the Boston Bruins. If the Islanders stick to such a game plan, then they will most likely experience some favorable results going into the final part of the 2011-2012 NHL season.
Matt Moulson, Frans Nielsen, and John Tavares all had two points in the afternoon contest. Tim Thomas replaced Tuukka Rask in the second period as the latter went down with what seemed to be a left leg injury. Michael Grabner (Flu), Al Montoya (Upper-body Injury), and Dylan Reese were all scratched from the New York Islander's lineup.