Does Three Straight Wins Mean Free Chili? Islanders 2 Hurricanes 1
Great players deliver in big moments. John Tavares, with each passing game, is becoming one.
Tavares scored the game-tying and game-winning goal 3:58 into overtime as the Islanders won their third consecutive game and fourth in five games, 2-1 over the Carolina Hurricanes.
The game-winning goal was set up by P.A Parenteau, somehow finding a streaking Tavares whose shot barely trickled across the goal line. Tavares had his 18th and 19th goals of the season and had his 12th consecutive game with a point which now is the longest streak this season in the NHL.
Evgeni Nabokov was once again solid in goal for the Isles. He made 32 saves in his third straight victory since reaching the 300 win plateau. He yielded only a 1st period Jeff Skinner goal off a rebound and shut the door from there. It was his 10th victory of the season overall and his second this season against Carolina.
Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward was sensational in defeat with 38 saves. He faced 23 shots in the second period and was only beaten by a Tavares rebound attempt. He played both games of the Canes' back-to-back nights, the first was a 3-0 victory against the Capitals.
The Islanders improved to 19-21-6 and leapfrogged over Buffalo into 12th place in the Eastern Conference. They currently sit eight points behind the Washington Capitals for the Eighth and final playoffs. The Islanders will conclude their unofficial first half of the season when they play the Toronto Maple Leafs in a home-and-home series that begins in Toronto on Monday night and concludes on Long Island, Tuesday.
With two wins against the Maple Leafs, the Islanders would start the second half at .500, a cause for optimism and excitement for a team that hasn’t had much in recent years.
I realized my last ‘Minute’ was more of a New York City Marathon, so I will try and keep this short and to the point.
The New York Islanders did not play well by any means Saturday night. It looked eerily similar to the Nashville game on Monday, especially in the 1st and 3rd periods. It looked as though Carolina was waiting for the Islanders to travel in after a game the night before. On paper this game should have been on a game they had to win in their own building. It looked like they were tight and nervous playing in a pretty meaningful game at home.
The second period they took a lot of shots on Ward, but he was fantastic and gave them every chance to steal the victory. Per the very very liberal scoring department, the Islanders took 23 shots that period, but I don't think it was anywhere near that in real life, but home cooking isn’t bad every once in a while. It was the most complete period of the game for them as they limited the chances for the Hurricanes, minus a couple of mini-breakaways that Nabokov swallowed up. The third period was puzzling to me for many reasons. Not a single shot hit Cam Ward until 11:32 into the period. The game is tied 1-1 in your building and you go nearly 12 minutes without a shot? Dylan Reese described, prior to the game, that it was like a playoff game tonight. If that effort in the third was playoff effort, then get ready for spring training.
It looked like they were complacent to just hold on and get a point and see what happens in overtime. You never felt that a game-winning goal was going to be had by either team, third period or overtime. Then in miraculous fashion Parenteau got the puck to the 26th best player under 25 who was able to send the home crowd off with a victory.
The next two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs are as big as they get. I know fans are in a frenzy about maybe getting to .500 at the All-Star break and thats great. These two games are crucial as the Leafs are in 9th place in the Conference and hold a seven point lead over the Islanders. Both games are must wins for this team. However, the Leafs aren’t exactly a good match up for the Isles. Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul are strong forwards that score a lot of goals. They also boast a physical defense with Dion Phaneuf leading their blue-line. Teams like the Leafs, Bruins and even the Canes tonight can frustrate the Isles by being physical and wearing down the smaller team. I know they are 2-0 vs the Canes this season, but the two games were some of the worst hockey this team played all season.
Glad to see the Islanders fan get after the ESPN writer that wrote the 25 under 25 article. It was also wonderful to see our broadcaster Howie Rose delve into his thoughts on the manner. If you watch this kid play, he is becoming a star before our eyes. His skating has improved immensely this season and his play around the net has been top-notch. He also makes the players around him better, a true sign of a great player/leader. Matt Moulson has improved his game two-fold playing with him. Kyle Okposo looks like a different hockey player as well. The team is built around him going forward. My offer still stands to the writer of the article and maybe, just maybe, he’ll watch tonight’s game and think.. what on earth was I thinking leaving that talent off that list. I don’t want to harp too much on the list but it was just something that bothered me.
A star is rising on the Island, not a moment too soon for Islanders fans.