Islanders Get Hammered Up By The Sharks

Depending on who you speak to after a game, you might find someone who is very eager to say that the refs cost the home team a game. But in regards to last night's Islanders game against the Sharks, that person might be right.

The New York Islanders decided to honor the 1992-1993 team prior to puck drop, with several memorable players making their way onto the ice. Such players included Benoit Hogue, Mick Vukota, Darius Kasparitis, Vladimir Malakhov and of course, Pierre Turgeon. Al Arbour could not be in attendance but had a recorded video air on the overhead to try to inspire the current squad while paying their respects to a team that many thought would make their way to the Stanley Cup before losing in the third round to the Montreal Canadiens.

But the game didn't start nearly as well as the Islanders had hoped, both past and present.

Rick DiPietro (RagingMike/Flickr)A penalty to Islanders defenceman Steve Staios would turn into an early power play goal for Joe Pavelski by the 17-second mark of the first period. Rick DiPietro, who was getting his first start of the season, would be welcomed by a few sarcastic cheers for easy saves after letting up the first goal of the game on the first shot taken. But he would quickly win over some more fan support after making some key saves to keep his team in the game.

The Islanders would end the first period down a goal after getting some quality scoring chances on San Jose goaltender, Thomas Greiss. He was letting up some juicy rebounds all game and it would be only a matter of time before the Islanders cashed in.

John Tavares would eventually bury the rebound off an initial shot from Matt Moulson while with the man-advantage in the second period. With Greiss down, Tavares would be shown a yawning cage, making it easy for him to notch his seventh goal of the year. Parenteau was also credited with an assist. At about the halfway point of the middle frame, Kyle Okposo would find Michael Grabner untouched in the slot, once again on the powe play. Frans Nielsen started the rush in the neutral zone which ultimately gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead.

"We were moving, getting pucks to the net," said Tavares in regards to the team's two power play goals on the night. "We made a little adjustment on our breakout on that second goal and it was a tic-tac-toe play. We work on those things everyday, we do our pre-scouting and Dougie [Weight] does a great job preparing us. We made some adjustments in the intermission and it paid off."

However, Logan Couture would tie the game on the Sharks only real scoring chance of the period as the puck came off of DiPietro's pad, rolling on it's side. Couture scooped up the rebound and knuckle-balled it home over DP's glove hand.

Travis Hamonic (bridgetds/Flickr)The third period would be exciting to watch as it continued to stay tied into overtime, where the real story played out. Travis Hamonic cleared the puck off the glass and into the crowd, but one of the on-ice officials called a "Delay of Game" penalty on Hammer as he believed that the puck did not make contact and went straight into the seats. Video replay clearly showed that this was the wrong call, and everyone in that building and on the Islanders bench knew so as well. Doug Weight was leaning over the bench screaming bloody murder at the referees in absolute amazement that they could make such a terrible call.

Sure enough, the Sharks would get a blast from Brent Burns that beat DiPietro to give the Sharks a 3-2 win. The Islanders outshot the Sharks 37-30, the second most amount of shots that the Sharks have given up all season. They looked tired after playing Detroit the night before and the Islanders took advantage of it by playing what was probably their most consistent and throughly played game of the year. Unfortunately, it was all erased because of one bad call.

"You know, it happens. It's a big time in the game but we just got to try to put it behind us," said Tavares after the game. "We played a pretty good hockey game. Should of had a few more, would have made a difference. But we generated a lot, we were moving our feet, moving the puck. The play in our own end was a lot better tonight. Tough break."

"I chipped the puck off the glass," said Hamonic after the game. He clearly looked frustrated and it was visible to anyone who knows him; he is always willing to talk and give long, thorough answers to any reporter. But last night he was very solemn and soft-spoken.

"And obviously the call was what the call was. And I don't think there's much else to say about that."

Stan Fischler was trying to get some of the Islanders skaters to say a little bit more than that by asking if the team had been robbed. But Hamonic, who plays like a 10-year pro, answered the questions like one too.

"That's why I said that you guys can make those decisions. I haven't had a chance to see the replay yet. I'm sure when I leave here I'll watch it. But at the end of the day the call was what the call was and unfortunately they scored on that power play and those are the bounces you have to deal with sometimes. But all that aside I thought we played a great game tonight."

The general consensus from everyone asked was that the referrees didn't give an explanation for the call.

"No. Obviously the refs just concurred that the puck went right out and that was the call on the ice," said Hamonic. "At the end of the day, like I said, as unfortunate and frustrating as it was, that's the way it goes."

DiPietro, who made 27 saves in his first full game of the year, was very reserved in his responses as well when talking to Fischler.

"I felt pretty good. It's been a while since I started a game. But I felt like I had good practices and good work with the rest of the guys to try to stay sharp. It's just that just I don't like to lose. It's not a fun feeling."

"It looked pretty clear that it hit the glass," he added in reference to Hamonic's penalty.

Stan Fischler then interjected to correct him and say that it did in fact hit the glass before entering the crowd.

Rick DiPietro (xjowell/Flickr)"I know it did," DiPietro retorted. "I'm trying to watch myself I don't want to get fined. Got to start saving. You're trying to rope me into making some -"

But then Fischler quickly rephrased the question, turning it into a statement by saying that it just doesn't make sense to him how four officials on the ice couldn't get the right call that appeared to be obvious.

"I'm sitting here asking myself the same question," said DiPietro. "Sometimes it's just the speed of the game with missed calls but hopefully when they get back to their hotel or where ever and they look at the play they will realize that it did hit the glass."

But overall, there wasn't anyone in that locker room who was upset with the way that the team played.

"I think we are getting better every game," said Grabner. "We had solid five man units on the ice today and we were playing good. We got a little unlucky on the first goal on the PK there but we got better and better as the game went on."

All six skaters from the top two lines had points last night, something that the Islanders want to see more of as secondary scoring has been very inconsistent to start the year.

"I think we all got a few shots on goal and good chances today and last game so hopefully we can keep on going."

The Islanders will have four days for this game to sit on the top of their minds as they are off until Thursday when the Winnipeg Jets roll into town. Now at 3-4-2 and being winless in their last five games, this team needs a win now more than ever; to boost their confidence, reward them for their hard play, and most of all to get back up in the standings.

-Rob McGowan

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