Hats Fall To The Ice for JT as Isles Defeat Rangers 4-2

The 2011-2012 season is starting to take shape for the New York Islanders and Saturday’s opponent, the New York Rangers, added the always great rivalry aspect to the fourth game of this young season. The Rangers entered the game at 0-0-2 while the Isles entered the game at 2-1-0.

Islanders head coach Jack Capuano announced before the game that Evgeni Nabokov would get the start against the Rangers, which caught many Islanders fans by surprise based on how well Al Montoya was playing. But look at it this way, it is only three games into the season at this point. Montoya has played very well, but after Saturday’s game, the Islanders don't play again until Thursday which is a huge gap in hockey. You don’t really want to have a goalie that sits for almost two weeks without any play, so Coach Capuano gave Nabokov some action.

Speaking of action, twelve minutes into the first period, John Tavares started a rush into the Rangers zone. Tavares then made a nice quick one handed pass to linemate P.A. Parenteau, who then fired it to Matt Moulson, beating Henrik Lundqvist over his right shoulder to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead that they would ultimately take to the dressing room.

Six minutes into the second period, newly acquired Rangers forward Brad Richards would feed a beauty of a pass to Marian Gaborik, who left Isles defenseman Mike Mottau in the rearview mirror. Gaborik took the puck all alone into the Islanders zone and buried it five-hole on Nabokov. All tied at one in Uniondale.

Then the Islanders powerplay would kick in. John Tavares scored on a backhander after Brian Boyle went to the box for a delay of game. This would only become the first of three for Tavares on the evening. After Brandon Prust scored for the Rangers, the second powerplay goal for Tavares was set up by Islanders captain Mark Streit. Streit definitely seems to have mastered the art of the “slap pass,” by firing a hard pass right on to the stick blade of Tavares, giving the Isles the lead again.

As the clock winded down at the Coliseum, the Rangers pulled their goaltender, thus giving John Tavares the perfect opportunity to achieve a hat trick, the third of his career. Also notching his league leading 5th goal of the season.

The Tavares hat trick completely overshadows how well Evgeni Nabokov and P.A. Parenteau played Saturday. With Nabokov facing 31 shots and stopping 29, it truly shows how solid of a goaltender the Islanders have alongside Al Montoya. Not to mention how well Nabokov was puckhandling when things got chippy in the crease. Parenteau notched three assists, was a +3 and played over 18 minutes in Saturday’s victory.

It will be certainly interesting to see where Jack Capuano goes with the goaltender situation. With the Islanders playing Thursday in Tampa, will he start Nabokov again after his solid performance? Or will he go back to Montoya and his 1.35 GAA? Whatever way Capuano goes, one thing will be certain: the Islanders will be in good shape.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter! @EvanPivnickNYI


Rob McGowan's picture

I've always said that the best problem a coach could have is trying to decide which goalie to start because both are playing so well. Nabokov did not show any signs of rust yesterday and the top line was just superb. Now if only the second and third lines can start scoring some goals.