Flyers Deny Nabokov of 300th Win; Defeat Isles 3-2
Ok, I'm convinced. It's a curse. The Islanders simply cannot beat the Philadelphia Flyers! If losing 23 of the last 24 games against the Flyers is not saying some sort of voodoo is going on, I don't know what will. Well...not exactly voodoo, but you catch my drift...right?
So let's talk about this game:
The Islanders started Evgeni Nabokov against the Flyers tonight. Nabokov was looking for career win number 300 but Nabokov hasn't had a rest in a while, so I definitely thought that Poulin would get the start. Nonetheless, Nabokov looked stellar tonight. Regardless of the few mistakes he made, he played with the most confidence he has played with in a long while. He was coming out of the crease to make saves, and that's how you truly know a goaltender is confident; when he leaves his "safe area", as in his crease.
The Isles would have the first real scoring chance of the game when Michael Grabner was awarded a penalty shot after he was hooked on a breakaway. Grabner would end up putting the puck off the right pad of Sergei Bobrovsky, failing to finish, yet again, on a breakaway scenario.
The first period was filled with action. Just end to end play, the way hockey should be.
But the Flyers would get on the board first in this one when Scott Hartnell deflected in a shot to put the Flyers up 1-0. It was a tough save for Nabokov to make, I'll give him that as Hartnell did what he has always done so well, skating infront of the crease and tapping in the puck.
So the second period is underway and another breakaway opportunity has arrived for Michael Grabner. Grabner tries to go backhand-forehand but the glove of Sergei Bobrovsky absolutely robs Grabner.
The Flyers would strike again in the second period on a, pretty much, fluke goal. Wayne Simmonds threw the puck at Nabokov's pad when he was at a bad angle and long story short, the Flyers were up by 2.
Twenty two seconds into the third, the Isles would finally take the shutout away from the Flyers when Kyle Okposo knocked in the loose puck in front of the net. For Okposo, who has been heavily criticized for his lack of scoring earlier this season, it is definitely great to see him reach the double digit mark in goals before the halfway mark of the season.
So under 10 minutes to play and the Islanders are attacking in the Flyers zone, Max Talbot tries to clear the puck and is absolutely trucked by Islanders defenseman Steve Staios. It is really inconclusive whether Staios' shoulder connected with Talbot's head or his chest.
1:30 remaining in the period and a stolen puck by Flyers' rookie Sean Couturier pans out to a 2 on 1 rush for Philly and Couturier snipes the puck over the glove of Evgeni Nabokov to give the Flyers another two goal lead.
But the Isles wouldn't give up that easily. 15 seconds were remaining in the period, the extra man was on for the Islanders, and the all-star John Tavares made a nice play to beat Bobrovsky on his left side to pull the Islanders within one. But time would run out before the Islanders could strike again.
Did the Islanders play great? No. Did the Islanders play terribly? No. It was a decent game for the New York Islanders last night. An area where the Islanders need to improve vastly: keep the puck in the opponents zone. The Islanders d-men have had such trouble this year just simply keeping the puck in the zone and clearing it out of their own zone.
So the three game home winning streak comes to an end, and the Islanders face the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. It would definitely be very interesting if Nabokov gets the start for that one.
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