Islanders Rock the Red Hot Caps

The Islanders halted their 5 game losing streak, defeating the Capitals by a score of 5-3.  PA Parenteau added the go-ahead goal with under 2 minutes to play, and John Tavares added an empty netter to seal the victory for the home team.

Coach Jack Capuano finally decided to try new line combinations to spark the offense, and the players responded in a big way.  It took a period to find their in-game chemistry, but Capuano’s new look Isles came up big in the final 40 minutes of play. 

The Capitals jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Frans Neilsen added a goal early in the second period to cut the lead in half.  Neilsen took a shot from just inside the blueline on Capitals goaltender Tomas Vokoun, and followed his shot to the net before depositing a rebound just between Vokoun’s pads. 

Brian Rolston scored on a 2 on 2 rush with Neilsen later in the second period, firing a blistering slap shot through Vokoun.  Rolston played easily his best game as a New York Islander, and showed what a threat he can be when he gets his heavy shot on net.

Matt Martin scored on a rebound courtesy of a Steve Staios shot from the point to give the Islanders a 3-2 lead.  Martin corralled the rebound in front and made a beautiful forehand to backhand deke before slamming the puck home.  For Martin, who played well with his new linemates Josh Bailey and Jay Pandolfo, it was his second goal of the season – and he looks well on his way to eclipsing last season’s total of five. 

Staios then took a penalty which led to Brooks Laich’s tying goal on the power play.  Laich scored on a snap shot from the left wing half boards which beat Rick DiPietro high over the glove side. 

PA Parenteau scored with just under two minutes to play to take the lead for good.  Parenteau carried the puck into the zone well along the left wing boards.  The puck came back to Milan Jurcina at the right point, who took a good low shot which squeaked through Vokoun’s pads where Parenteau was ready and waiting to put away the rebound. 

John Tavares scored an empty netter just 45 seconds later after a terrific heads-up outlet pass by goalie Rick DiPietro, taking advantage of the Capitals attempt at a line change. 

An overall solid effort by the Islanders, who responded well to coach Capuano’s new line combinations.  If the Islanders can continue to generate the secondary scoring they found in Saturday night’s game against the Capitals, they should be able to get back on track as a dark horse team in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. 

Continued solid goaltending will be a must, and Rick DiPietro provided another good effort in net for the -Islanders in his third consecutive start.  One would continue to assume that Al Montoya would get a game in net this week as the Islanders start a three game road trip.  Depending on Evgeni Nabokov’s health status, we may see him get one of the games against upcoming Western Conference opponents, the Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks.  DiPietro has impressed in his first few games this season, and it was nice to see him rewarded with the ‘W’ against a Capitals team who the Islanders have struggled against in the past few years. 

The Islanders look to carry the momentum from this win into Monday’s contest against the Boston Bruins, where fans may be still lamenting the Patriots’ loss to the Giants in the final seconds of their Sunday afternoon battle.  A win against the struggling Bruins would help get the Islanders back into the thick of things in the extremely talented Atlantic Division. 

Saturday night was a big win for the Islanders after falling behind 2-0.  The team showed the heart and drive that they lacked last season during the ’20 in 21’ slide.  In the Atlantic Division race, the Islanders can ill-afford to have a streak even moderately close to that again this season if they hope to make the playoffs.  Ending the skid at 5 games, and getting points in the last 3 games, are both steps in the right direction. 

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