Isles Can't Strike Lightning Twice
In their first road game of the season, the New York Islanders dropped a 4-1 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Islanders fall to 3-2 on the season.
Much speculation was made leading up to the game as the team announced Rick DiPietro would be making the road trip to Florida with the team. Evgeni Nabokov was coming off an excellent game against the rival Rangers, and Al Montoya sported one of the top GAA’s and Save Percentages in the NHL.
Coach Jack Capuano gave Montoya the nod, and Montoya looked sharp at times when he was tested. While Montoya did not play poorly in this game, perhaps only the fourth and final goal would be one that he would like back (channeled his inner DiPietro in getting lost behind the net), he did not play well enough where he was in position to steal the game for his team either.
The Islanders players came out flat from the start, playing well for a small stretch in the first period, and about 6 minutes in the third period which saw them score their only goal. Michael Grabner made a nice play against the left wing boards in the neutral zone, chipping the puck past Long Island native Matt Gilroy, and took off with that blazing speed of his before finishing a 2 on 1 with a beautiful wrist shot high over Mathieu Garon’s glove hand. Grabner’s goal put the Islanders on the board and snapped Garon’s shutout bid with just over 12 minutes remaining in the final period to cut the lead to 3-1.
It appeared the Isles were making a push for a second goal when Marty Reasoner got whistled for a minor penalty for interference and broke the momentum. Josh Bailey and a rushing Steve Staios had a shorthanded opportunity which would have raised the Islanders back into the game, but were unable to convert.
For the Lightning, Steven Stamkos was the best player on the ice, and he cashed in with *two goals in the contest. Youngster Brett Connolly had a much more noticeable game than he did on Long Island, and though he looks highly talented, he still appears a little weaker with the puck than a player who is fully NHL-ready. It would not be surprising if the Lightning chose to return him to juniors when his 9-game clause is up next week, nor if they chose to keep him at the NHL level.
Mathieu Garon was given the start in goal for Tampa Bay, meaning Dwayne Roloson will have to wait for another day to seek redemption against his former team, and Garon played a solid game. He was not tested with too many high-quality scoring chances, but the Islanders were unable to generate the sustained pressure from rebounds as they had done in their previous few games.
A disappointing effort for Coach Jack Capuano’s troops, and the Coach alluded after the game that it may be time to consider shaking up the line combinations since there is a definite lack of scoring chances coming from lines other than the top unit of Parenteau – Tavares – Moulson.
In addition to the line combinations that may be revisited, Saturday night’s game at the home of the Florida Panthers could see Rick DiPietro take the ice in his first start this season. Perhaps young Blake Comeau will return to the lineup as well, considering that Trevor Gilles took all of five shifts during tonight’s game.
There are a few intriguing story lines developing as we head into the weekend. Let the speculation begin…
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*one of Stamkos’ goals may have been Brett Clark’s on a slapshot, but as of this publishing, it is Stamkos’ goal