Isles Fight Back to Grab Point Against Blackhawks
The Islanders took their five game points streak into Thursday night's matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks. The hope was obviously to get both points, but in the end the Islanders got one, which looked unlikely through the first half of the game.
The Islanders came out lethargic, but found their game a little bit into the first. A shaky Ray Emery made some decent saves, and was out of position for a few others that fortunately for him missed the net.
Marian Hossa scored on the power play to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead. With the puck behind the net and Al Montoya scrambling to get to the right post, Hossa wisely shot the puck at the back of Montoya's skate and the puck switched direction and crossed the goal line. Patrick Sharp scored on a powerful slap shot early in the second to give the Hawks their two goal lead.
It wasn't until late in the second period when the Islanders would solve Emery, with Travis Hamonic scoring on a shot from the point. It was Hamonic's first goal of the season and began to turn the Islanders' luck around. The period ended with the Islanders getting a 5-on-3 power play for 1:56 after Patrick Kane (elbowing) and Dave Bolland (high-sticking) took their penalties four seconds apart. The Islanders would get some nice chances on net, but failed to produce anything on the power play both on this sequence and throughout the entire game.
The Islanders did finally tie the game mid-way through the third period on a tip-in by Michael Grabner off of a shot by Steve Staios. Grabner and Kyle Okposo battled in front of the net with Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. It caused enough of a distraction that Emery never saw the rising shot from Staios.
All in all, it was a good effort from the Islanders. It looked like the night wouldn't turn out very well for them, but to come back against a quality team and get a point is huge. If this were a month ago, we can't even guarantee the score would have even been this close. P.A. Parenteau agreed.
"Three weeks or a month ago, we didn't have the confidence to come back like that. We would have gotten scored on and gotten down on ourselves."
The game ended in an unfortunate way however. The Islanders were trying to set up in the offensive zone, and a turnover led the Blackhawks the other way. Staios, who committed that turnover, tried to move with Hossa but stumbled, leaving the Hawks on a 2-on-1 break. Hossa took the initial shot, but Montoya kicked the rebound right out to Sharp, who was in a perfect spot to bury it a minute and a half into the extra frame.
While refusing to acknowledge that much good can come out of a loss, Jack Capuano was once again pleased with the teams effort.
"It's one of the better teams in the league, and we showed up on the road in Chicago and here on Long Island. It was a great effort."
While many of the players were fine with getting a point, the frustration showed on many of their faces. After the game, the Isles seemed reluctant to leave the ice. Montoya stayed on the ice, sitting in the crease for about a half minute before getting up and heading to the dressing room.
"We seem to grow every single game," Montoya said. "That's all you can ask for right now. We're battling, and battling. We want the two (points) but the one is huge."
"We want to stay in this hunt as long as possible."
The Islanders have their next chance to stay in the hunt Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Their defensive effort was strong, but can still be tightened up here and there. Even without Sidney Crosby, the Islanders will have to do that to keep their chances of extending their points streak high.
Photo by C. Hessel