Islanders Get Raked By The Leafs, 4-3 In Over Time

Well if there is one thing that can be taken away from the Islanders home-and-home series with the Toronto Maple Leafs, it's that the Leafs' entire roster should be considered as finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy that is handed out to the most disciplined player at this year's NHL Awards Ceremony. 

Although the whistle was blown against the Leafs after a scuffle in their end erupted after a tussle between Travis Hamonic and Phil Kessel, not once did the Islanders earn a power play tonight to total 120 minutes of hockey without an Islanders man-advantage going back to last night. The Leafs managed to beat the Islanders 4-3 in over time to complete the two-game sweep. (Travis Hamonic bridgetds/Flickr)

John Tavares opened up the scoring less than two minutes into tonight's game as Kyle Okposo dug the puck out from behind the Leafs net to find JT on one knee in the slot, putting the puck home behind Johan Gustavsson, starting for the second night in a row. Dylan Reese picked up the other assist. 

The lead would hold into the second period and then increase after Josh Bailey scored a shorthanded goal while sliding on his back. Matt Martin carried the puck through the neutral zone and skated past the Leafs defender to find Bailey streaking up the middle. The goal would appear as an insurance marker, but Clarke MacArthur would cut the lead in half just before the final minute of the middle frame. 

The Leafs would tie the game at the 1:47 mark of the third period with a goal from Jake Gardiner, his first of the year. Gardiner would wrist the puck from the blue line as a Leafs forward was practically sitting in Al Montoya's crease, keeping the Isles keeper down on the ice. The goal stood, despite the Islanders efforts to challenge the call made by the on-ice official.

Mikael Grabovski would score his 16th of the year as well as his third point out of four on the night in the final five minutes of the period to give the Leafs a 3-2 lead, appearing to be the nail in the coffin of the Leaf's comeback. This goal also came after Andrew MacDonald took a stick to the face, forcing the Isles medical trainer to attend to him on the ice. 

 This image was taken by Riley MacVicar (@rileymac83) and was upload via Twitter. You can see clearly that MacDonald was taking a stick to the face, which occurred right in front of the Islanders net. But yet, there was no call.

There were several calls and high sticks that were missed against the Islanders. One play involved John Tavares at the end of the second period as he was run into by Phil Kessel behind the Leafs net. The replay showed that some part of Kessel caught Tavares up high, causing him to go down on the ice and take a few seconds to get back into the play. The ref was standing right in the corner and didn't make a call.

"I saw it last second, I just got my hands up," said Tavares in reference to the collision. "I just shake my head at that really, I don't get it."

And after the period ended, Tavares didn't receive an explanation of why the refs arm never went up.

"No, I mean, I was pretty heated obviously, but you know I thought that he was there, I thought he saw it. I don't know, it just didn't make a whole lot of sense. I guess he didn't see it as a penalty."

Tavares began to open up a bit more about the style of the two games that were played between both clubs and how it just baffled him how his squad couldn't get any power play time two nights in a row. (John Tavares valorfaerie/Flickr)

"Especially last night wasn't as chippy as it was tonight and it was a little bit more of a, I felt like it was more of a trap kind of game and there wasn't much room out there. Not very physical but guys were in the right lanes, sticks in the right areas and they just took time and space away. But you see there was [tonight] a lot going on, there was a lot of sticks everywhere, there was a lot of intensity, a lot of emotion. We thought we worked hard and made some strong efforts. Obviously if they don't feel there's any penalties then there's no penalties. We got to try and stay focused on the task at hand and not let it get to us."

And the Islanders did try to do just that as they peppered Gustavsson up until the final buzzer, but P.A. Parenteau would tie the game with just 12 seconds remaining. The puck would take a weird hop off the boards, (the Coliseum carom finally worked in the Isles favor, courtesy of The Hockey Gods), and Parenteau was easily able to fire home his tenth of the year as it would land on his tape as he was standing right in front of the Leafs net.

But MacArthur would add to his night's goal total with the overtime winner after he completed a nice give-and-go play with Grabovski. The two of them skated in on a 2-on-1 rush with defenseman Mark Streit caught in the Leafs zone. Montoya would appear to make the save of the year, catching it in his glove. but to the Islanders dismay, the replay showed that the puck completely crossed the goal line despite the nice catch.

"No, I knew it went in," said Montoya in reference to the close save. It was his first game back after missing about a month of playing time recovering from a concussion.

"It's good to be back with the team, being able - I wish I could have contributed a little bit more tonight," said Montoya. "But it was an odd game for me. I felt pretty good after a month off, but it seemed like every goal that went in was, there was a bounce on their side so it's one I'll have to look at, but the team did a great job tonight."

The team did play well and did show resiliency throughout the game. Yet it almost seemed impossible to avoid discussion of the poor officiating over the past two nights.

"I don't really understand it," said Tavares after the game in regards to that his team had just played two games without a power play.

His teammate Josh Bailey had more to add.

"There's ample amount of times, I mean you don't even have to go looking to find a call. They're right there. I don't know why, I don't know what the reasoning is, but yeah, it's obviously frustrating."

"I don't care how disciplined a team is, there's calls to be had out there. Maybe we could even have gotten a couple more our way, but certainly we could have gotten at least one, not to say that it would have changed the outcome of the game. But it would have been nice to get one, I think."

It's impossible to know if different calls would have changed the outcome of the game, like Bailey stated. However it more than likely would have provided them a few more opportunities to have increased their lead or get the win. But at the end of the day, the Islanders managed to blow a two-goal lead and lose to a team they are jostling for position with in the standings - and they will have plenty of time to think about it over the next seven days.

"We out shot them and we got some good opportunities and they had a couple lucky bounces and we got a bounce there at the end," added Tavares. "So we definitely have to take the point, try and move on and get ready and get some rest and get ready for when we come back."

-Rob McGowan

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Marco Perruzza's picture

Yes the officiating was horrible last night, but I think it went both ways. Funny that Tavares was talking about non-calls since he got away with about five-six cross-checks to Komisarek, Gardiner and Schenn. Also the fact that Johhny T threw Gardiner into Jonas Gustavsson before plowing into the Leafs goalie himself went unnoticed. What about Travis Hamonic chopping at Phil Kessel all night like he a landscaper?

As for the first meeting, the Leafs played a discipline game like they have since the calender turned. While the Islanders were listless in Toronto. The fact is that both teams were forced to play through some obstruction and the Leafs came out on top.

Perhaps your frustration should be aimed at Milan Jurcina and not the men in the striped shirts.

George Prax's picture

Marco, please explain to me how playing 120 minutes plus of hockey without getting a single powerplay, vs. several for the Leafs, equates to the calls going "both ways". I don't think Rob is implying that there weren't other calls that could have gone against the Isles, but come on now, the Isles were a clear disadvantage here just by looking at the box score.

Marco Perruzza's picture

Well, just looking at the box score you'll see that the Leafs had two power play opportunities in each game. I don't think they've had several. Since January the Leafs have been the least penalized team in the NHL. In four of those games the Leafs have avoiding being penalized once for minor infractions. While I admit last night the referee's were atrocious. The first game - and I think Rob can agree with me - was an absolute dud by the Isles. They didn't deserve any calls, and therefore didn't receive them.

I've stated many times that the officiating has been terrible league wide all season, but if you watched the game and last night instead of just seeing the box score you would acknowledge a lack of calls for either team. Of course if the Leafs had lost on both nights then I would be complaining about the lack of calls as well.

George Prax's picture

Again, I'm not arguing that there weren't missed calls in both directions, I'm just stating that a team receiving ZERO calls against them in a home-and-home, back-to-back situation against the same team both nights is not only improbable, but nearly impossible, regardless of the level of discipline for the Leafs. Clearly the refs put their whistles away for the most part. I'm not saying the Isles deserved to win either game either. It's just an anomalous occurrence, from a statistical point of view.

Marco Perruzza's picture

I agree George, an anomalous occurrence. If you read my game recap from last night (by the way it was fantastic) I pointed out that the game was the most bizarre one I've seen all season. Last night the Islanders certainly deserved power play opportunities as did the Leafs. The first game at the Air Canada Centre was one in which the Leafs simply didn't commit any penalties. Toronto dominated that match-up from the opening puck drop.

Considering the ref's were awful from top to bottom, I found it amusing in Rob's game recap that Islanders John Tavares was commenting on the officials since he was perhaps the player that got away with the most in that game.

I think we're saying the same thing here. Bottom line is this has been the worst officiated season I've seen in a long time. Zero consistency from game to game.

George Prax's picture

Agreed, I don't understand how it's become so bad. Is that something Colin Campbell was (or maybe now is) involved in?

As for Tavares, what do you expect him to say? "Ya guys I totally took advantage of the refs tonight." lol

Marco Perruzza's picture

Just for reference, take a look at this head shot that the officials missed last night as well

George Prax's picture

I don't like how that's slowed down, I think it makes it look worse than it is. Grabovski comes in facing Nino, turns at the last second, and he's hunched over the entire time. Not to mention Nino has a good few inches on him to begin with. I'd love to see that full speed. Probably should be a 2 minute minor though.

Rob McGowan's picture

Okay my arguments here...(as I am late to the show), Tavares was not the biggest culprit on the ice. You have to be kidding. He got that shot from Kessel at the end of the second and had several other times where he was hacked and slashed that went unnoticed. What you saw was a player start to become frustrated after nothing went his team's way in regards to the the way the game was called on the ice.

And as for that head shot, Grabovski's head is down the whole time. I hate plays like that. Nino went in with his shoulder down the whole way (no elbows, hands weren't high, etc) and clearly was going for a shoulder to shoulder hit. But if you play the game you know how quickly that can change if a player, with his head down (and especially if you are smaller), turns his body into the check. Should it have been a minor just because Nino seemed to make contact with his head, probably. I am glad he wasn't hurt on the play, but there were more missed calls on the Leafs end than the Isles. The amount of high sticks was incredible.

Also, like you and George both pointed out, I am not saying that the Isles couldn't have gotten more penalties either. They probably could have. But 120 plus minutes of zero power plays to the Leafs' four is simply just mind numbing. Like Bailey said, it might not have changed the outcome of the game, but it would have been nice to have a chance to work with the man-advantage.

As a whole, I feel like this year has been one of the worst year's of officiating in the NHL. Not just for the Isles, but generally speaking. Whoever is supposed to be doing their job in monitoring the on-ice officiating hasn't been doing a very good job.