Chad Johnson Plays Superman As Isles Escape With Win In Beantown

The Islanders came to Boston on a mission to win a physical game against a very good Boston team.  They had some extra motivation, as this was sort of a homecoming for Johnny Boychuk & tonight's starting goaltender, Chad Johnson.  Both men visited the Bruins on the ice this morning for their morning skate, and talked for a little while.  However, once it got down to game time, it was all business for Johnson & Boychuk.

First Period-

The Islanders came out swinging against the physical B's with lots of speed and good forechecking.  Six minutes & 21 seconds in the Kulemin-Nielsen-Bailey line was rewarded for their hard work in the Boston zone as Fransy sticked one past Svedberg after a beautiful forecheck by Kulemin & lucky bounce on Bailey's attempted pass. They were buzzing for about 19 minutes when Milan Lucic came roaring through the middle of the ice and tipped in Seth Griffith's cross-ice pass.  It was a real letdown for what was a great first period by the Isles.  They looked sharp, attentive to their gap coverage, & came out with a fire lit under their asses.  Unfortunately, in order for them to be a Stanley Cup contender, they need to play a 200 ft game all 20 minutes of a period.  Those late period meltdowns bring back bad memories, so this pattern needs to stop.

Second Period-

Second period started off the same exact way, and they got on the board early when JT91 wrapped around the net for a pass to Brian Strait, whose shot deflected off of Niklas Svedberg's arm & got baseball swung in by Kyle Okposo's stick (must be watching the World Series.  Anders Lee got a penalty relatively early in the period, but the Isles looked good on the PK minus a close call off the crossbar.  The crossbar became Chad Johnson's friend a lot throughout the game. 9:27 into the period & Matt Martin out of all people feeds a beautiful no look pass to a wide open Cal Clutterbuck in the spot who makes no mistake and rips it top shelf.  The Islanders continue to forecheck and play their game, and realistically this period was probably the best the Islanders have looked all season.  Everyone was worried about the dreaded two goal, third period lead, and boy did things get interesting.

Third Period-

To put it bluntly, the Islanders should have lost this game the way they played in the third period.  They immediately looked sloppy at the beginning of the period, failing to clear the zone & doing the exact opposite of what got them success the first two periods.  They have a tendency at times to become complacent & stop skating when they're in their own zone, which almost bit them in the butt multiple times.  Halfway through the period the B's got their goal after sustained pressure, a rebound that went right to Chris Kelly's stick.  Brock Nelson forgot that hockey is a two-way sport as he didn't check his man.  The B's continued to play keep away from the Isles & nearly scored again a few minutes later while having the puck in the offensive zone for almost two full minutes.  The Islanders had some chances, as Matt Martin had a  After the puck was cleared & iced, Jack Capuano called a TIME-OUT!!!!!  The Bruins would get a few more chances with a shot ringing off the crossbar again.  With about 30 seconds left a puck dribbled out into the slot & Chad Johnson lunged out to grab it, basically saving the day once again.  The last 20.9 seconds of the game were gut-wrenching, my heart was pounding, and somehow someway the Islanders did enough to eventually get the puck out of the zone and hold on for a HUGE victory in Boston.

Quick Hits

-I can't stress enough how much I like Chad Johnson in net.  Always cool, calm, and collected without making himself vulnerable to dekes or being out of position.  The Isles need to ride him a little more, as he's looked like the better goaltender so far.

-As much as I don't like Cory Conacher on the first line, I equally like Nikolay Kulemin on it.  He looks like he fits in well with his other two linemates, as he is a great forechecker & sustains lots of pressure in the offensive zone.

-Both teams sustained pretty serious losses during the first period.  Zdeno Chara left the game at the beginning of the first with an undisclosed injury after blindsiding John Tavares.  Josh Bailey also left the game after a slash, and unfortunately he may be out a couple of weeks with a broken hand.

-The refs were absolutely awful this game.  They were at least consistently bad, with terrible non-calls for multiple penalties that the B's committed & poor judgment of offsides.  If the Isles lost this game a lot of people would blame the refs for their non-calls, but luckily it never came to that.

-That was a character win for this team.  There were too many times last year when they came in with a lead and let the game slip away.  They somehow held on and beat an always tough Bruins team in Boston.  It also stops the losing streak at two & prevents the Islanders from going on a long swoon.

The Islanders next play at home against Dallas on Saturday.  The game begins at 7 PM, with pregame beginning at 6:30.  For more coverage on the team follow me @SupRos22 or @TCLIsles for more of our articles.

-Chris Passarelli