Isles Tame The Panthers In Shootout Win
The New York Islanders visited the Florida Panthers last night and took the victory after going perfect in the shootout for a 4-3 final; Rick DiPietro stopped both shots that he faced and Frans Nielsen and P.A. Parenteau both beat Scott Clemmensen to seal the deal before the third round of the shootout. DiPietro, who was making his first start after missing six weeks of action due to injury, made a total of 29 saves on 32 shots.
DP looked pretty comfortable in net, sporting a new helmet that was reminiscent of the days that Chris Osgood was the Islanders net-minder between the pipes. He looked confident, coming out to challenge shooters, poke-checking away close chances and standing tall during a penalty shot in over time. The Islanders visit Dwayne Roloson and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, making it interesting as to who will start, DiPietro or Montoya, to face the former teammate.
Michael Grabner also notched his 30th goal of the season, tying Matt Moulson for the current team lead in goals. He flew up through center ice to catch up with Frans Nielsen to create a two-on-one shorthanded chance that he was able to bury to give the Isles a 1-0 lead in the first period. His 30th keeps him at the top of the pack in rookie goal scoring, a statistic that has to sting hard for Panthers management since they chose to waive him before the start of the season, making Grabner this year's "Matt Moulson steal."
The other two goals came from P.A. Parenteau, a wrister from the left slot that gave him his 18th of the season, and Michael Haley. In a similar fashion to the way he scored his first NHL goal against Brent Johnson in the Penguins Pummel game, Haley drove up the right side of the rink before turning on the jets and speeding past the Panthers defenseman to come in tight with Clemmensen. The puck was in the back of the net with a quick flick of the wrist and was going to be the game-winning goal had not the Panthers tied it and forced OT.
When you take a look at the team's goal scorers, you can see that the Islanders have seriously improved in that department since the start of the season: Moulson and Grabner are at 30; Tavares is just four goals away from joining their club; Comeau has 20 with Parenteau just two shy of tying him. That's five forwards that are about 20 goals and above on this team, and it's safe to assume that Kyle Okposo would be right there in the pack had he not been injured for the majority of the season.
It will be fun watching these guys continue to set new personal records over the final 10 games of the season.
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