Isles Rake Leafs in Toronto, 5-2

The Islanders went into Toronto last night and were able to take two points from the struggling Maple Leafs. The Leafs have “tanked” in the past month and a half. On February 6th, the Maple Leafs were in 7th place in the East, now they lie in 12th. Although the team has altered during their debacle of a month; they traded defenseman Keith Aulie to Tampa in exchange for Carter Ashton, as well as fired head Coach Ron Wilson and hired former Ducks coach Randy Carlyle as a replacement. When the Islanders were set to face off against this Maple Leafs club, they knew that the Leafs were coming off of an 8-0 loss to the Boston Bruins. That could either be a good thing for the Islanders or a dangerous situation for the Isles; and the answer to that question was noticeable quite early in the game. In front of Evgeni Nabokov, the Islanders were on point since the opening faceoff. As for the Leafs? Not so much. It was very easy to tell that they were exhausted from the game on the previous night. It was just sloppy hockey from the Toronto squad; it looked as if there was zero chemistry. The only play they all seemed connected on was Phil Kessel’s goal in the first period to give the Leafs an early 1-0 go ahead.. In the first period however, the, what seems like, new and improved Josh Bailey would strike again. Bailey fired home a shot on a 2 on 1 with John Tavares, who would record one of his three assists of the night. As I mentioned before, Kessel scored before the Bailey goal, so the period would ultimately end tied at 1. The second period was eerily similar to the first period in regards to the scoring. Matthew Lombardi would score his first goal since February 15th to give the Leafs a 2-1 lead only 4 minutes into the second. Later in the frame, Michael Grabner would make an absolute beauty of a pass to David Ullstrom, who tapped the puck home to tie the game at 2. It was David Ullstrom’s third goal of the season. 2-2 it would stay until late in the third period when Matt Moulson would tally number one of two on the evening to give the Isles the lead. Moulson’s 31st of the season was not only a game winner, but also a career high. Two minutes later, P.A. Parenteau would benefit off of a Phil Kessel turnover. The turnover sent Parenteau on a breakaway and he was able to five hole on Jonas Gustavsson to put the Isles up by two. An empty netter by Moulson would be the icing on the cake, and the Isles took the game by the score of 5-2. Evgeni Nabokov was not challenged very much in this one, however. He only faced 14 shots, but he looked strong throughout the matchup. The Isles have some off time until Saturday, but I don’t see anyone else in goal besides Nabby at this point. All in all, last night’s game was one of the best games the Islanders have played this year as a team. It looked as if chemistry was flowing off of every line and the defensive pairings as well. Even though it will be only a matter of games until the Isles are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but the team’s attitude right now is A+. - Evan Pivnick