Live Blog From Nassau Coliseum: Isles vs. Lightning

Hey everyone! Today I will be doing my first live blog from the NYI Blog Box for The Checking Line. This afternoon at 2PM the Islanders will be hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that has been climbing the Eastern Conference standings while the Islanders are fighting for a chance to survive to the end of the season for their first playoff berth in years.

Check back a little before 2PM and feel free to leave questions and comments throughout the game!

First Period:

18:03 - First period has started. Sorry for the delay folks. I got here in time for puck draft despite the traffic on the Southern State Parkway but didn't get my lap top in time. Currently the Isles are working the PK on a 5-on-3.

17:27 - Biron has been the Isles best Penalty Killer thus far, just robbing Ryan Malone from a one-timer in close with his glove.

16:46 - Isles efficiently kill off both power-plays. Time for the offense to get some shots on net as they have yet to record one so far.

15:21 - Isles Captain Doug Weight gets knocked dwon from behind by Nate Thompson (oh hey there) with a cross-check. Isles go to the PP.

13:28 - MacDonald with a nice point blank slap shot that is steered aside by Nittymaki.

12:29 - A few seconds after the Isles get worked in their own end after their power play expired, Blake Comeau gives the Islanders the lead. The lone assist goes to Rob Schremp. Comeau got the puck in front and patiently waited for Nittymaki to go down before roofing the puck top-shelf.

10:44 - Matt Martin getting some first-line ice time with Okposo and Tavares.

8:46 - The Lightning tie the game with a goal from Stamkos from St. Louis and Foster on a broken play where the shot from the point was initially blocked and then picked up and scored by the former first-overall pick.

8:27 - Bergenheim takes a hooking minor, his second penalty of the period.

7:24 - Kyle Okposo gets a short-handed breakaway and dekes Nittymaki out of his shorts, Meszaros back-checked fast enough to break it up at the very last second as Kyle stared at an empty net before getting decked into the boards.

5:45 - Nate Thompson and Matt Martin square off at center-ice in response to Tavares getting fdecked into the boards. A good tussle between the two of them where Martin held his own and got several good slugs in. He's winning this crowd over on a nightly basis and he knows it, as he puts his hands up in the air looking for a response.

But this is where the NHL needs to stop penalizing fights beyone the five-minutes. Martin went over and challenged Thompson and they both willingly dropped the gloves. Butt Martin gets a 5 minute major AND a 10-minute misconduct. Fighting has always been part of the game. A clean fight should not be anything more than a five minute major. I can go on and on about this for hours. It drives me absolutely nuts.

5:31 - Lightning take a 2-1 lead but I didn't catch who scored the goal. Once they announce it I will have it posted.

The goal was scored by Lundin and assisted by Stamkos.

4:00 - The Isles are being out-shot 11-6 so far this period.

2:52 - With Martin enjoying his time in the Islanders locker room, Matt Moulson has been promoted to the first line. Let's see if they rekindle some of their chemistry that was found at the start of the season.

2:04 - Nittymaki, when tested, has appeared shakey between the pipes. They need to stay out of the box and start generating scoring chances by just getting pucks to the net.

1:08 - Joensuu threw a pass that missed his man and ricocheted off of a Lightning skate right onto Mark Streit's stick. The shot made it to the net and Schremp just missed a good opportunity to bury the rebound and tie it. But the Isles go to the power play as Downie goes to the box.

0:00 - The period ends with the Islanders failing to get an extra shot off in the final seconds. They will have some power play time to carry over into the second period.

Since I arrived late I will take this opportunity to fill you in on some game notes. Rick DiPietro is a healthy scratch as he is battling the flu. According to Katie Strang of Newsday's tweet, he will not be able to play tomorrow either. So here we have Biron in net with Roloson on the bench. And as you can see, neither Roloson or Sutton were traded before the 3PM trade deadline freeze. If you would like some intermission reading on my thoughts in regards to those two, check out this link:

Intermission: This may be the dumbest promotion I have ever seen. The Islanders Game Ops lay out a mat for five babies to crawl across to the other end for a $500 gift card. Some of these babies are barely a year old, if that, and they are trying to get them to compete. Yeah, you guessed right. Not one of them moved. But somehow there is a winner.

Second Period:

20:00 - Gordon sends out Weight, Okposo and Moulson on offense with Streit and Sutton on defense to start the second half of this power play.

18:48 - Isles manage to get a few shots on net but fail to connect with the man advantage. Shots are now 14-11 in favor of the Bolts.

15:34 - Doug Weight ties the game with his first goal of the season. After breaking out of their zone he fed a nice behind-the-back pass to Okposo. He had trouble receiving the puck but was able to settle it down and find Weight high in the slot.

13:55 - Tavares misses on a back-hand shot in tight, all alone with Nittymaki. The Isles managed to get the puck back to the point by Streit fumbled it at the blue-line, allowing the Bolts to take off on a breakaway. Luckily, Biron shut the door on his five-hole and kicked it aside.

13:27 - With the exception of that play, the Islanders have started this period with more of a hop in their step, but starting the period on the PP as opposed to the PK can certainly make that much of a difference, but I am also willing to bet that Gordon had a few words with them in between periods.

13:05 - Quick update. The lines tonight are as follows: Okposo-Tavares-Martin, Moulson-Nielsen-Hunter, Joensuu-Schremp-Comeau, Park-Weight-Bergenheim/Streit-Gervais, Sutton-MacDonald, Meyer-Kohn.

11:11 - The flow of the game has taken a step back or two in the past few minutes as the Isles just iced the puck.

10:17 - I don't know if it's just me, but Moulson has seemed to struggle with handling passes and carrying the puck all game.

9:26 - Biron has been excellent this game. He just made several key stops on an initial shot that had a rebound followed up behind it.

8:52 - Joensuu needs to start picking his head up before he attempts to make a pass. Twice this game he tried to pass the puck to a linemate and was off by significant margins.

7:57 - Isles have a good shift with the Joensuu-Schremp-Comeau line with MacDonald and Sutton at the point. Sutton had two shots on net and the Isles caused some havoc in front of Nittymaki. They need to have more shifts like this one if they expect to take the lead.

7:33 - Ahh I just happened to speak too soon. The Lightning score to take a 3-2 lead with the goal coming from Nate Thompson for his second of the season from Alex Tangua and Jeff Halpern.

6:24 - Tavares simply does not know how to get out of this slump he is in right now. JT had a scoring chance coming in on Nittymaki and hesitated before taking the shot. You can tell he was debating on what he should do instead of going on his instincts. The result? The defense caught up to him and pushed the puck wide. I don't think it even got off the ice. However, the Isles are now on the power play once again as Smaby heads to the sin bin for slashing.

3:46 - John Tavares, from his knees, skates around the number two selection in this year's draft, Victor Hedman, and throws the puck in front to hit the back of Nittymaki's skate to tie the game. Intentional or not, this will hopefully help his confidence since he's back on the score sheet.

2:48 - Correction. Okposo, who was in front on the play, recieved a pass from Tavares from his knees and scored to tie the game. Now you can say it was intentional. Sutton got the other assist.

2:48 - And as I write this, Blake Comeau picks the puck up at the blue-line and fires a shot into Nittymaki's glove but could not be held on to. Richard Park skates in and buries the rebound five-hole. The Isles now lead this game 4-3. Like I said, Nittymaki hasn't looked very sharp all game.

2:11 - Joensuu goes to the box for a minor Interference penalty.

36.5 - And there is the free chili announcement. For those of you who don't know, every time the Islanders score three goals in a home game, all fans in attendance get a free small chili at Wendy's if they say, "I want my free chili, Let's Go Islanders," at the window.

0:00 - The period ends with the Islandes winning 4-3 with a 26-23 shot advantage. The fans start to line up for the "Chuck-A-Puck" promotion as I head to get a pretzel and soda.

Third Period:

17:03 - Downie starts off a slow period with a bang, tying the game at four. St. Louis and Ohlund get the assists.

15:21 - The Isles go to the power play yet a gain and neet to connect here. Thompson goes to the box for Interference.

11:29 - Isles get heavily out-worked in their zone and a frustrated Sutton start hitting Tanguay like a rag doll. Luckily the escape the flurry without any penalties or a goal scored by the Lightning. If it wasn't for a weak shot from Halpern from the blue-line.

10:48 - Bruno Gervais gets easily beaten wild and a scoring chance is set up in front of the net. The puck trickled through the crease amongst a bunch of skates in the paint. Fortunately for the Isles the net came off and play was stopped.

8:22 - Hunter goes to the box for Interference. Shots are 33 and 28 in favor now of the Bolts.

7:47 - Watching Stamkos on the ice makes me hope that what we yave seen see with his development will be the same with Tavares next year. Stamkos had a very slow start last season but turned up his game at the halfway point. This year Tavares had a great start and has faded midway through. This year Stamkos is one of the leading scorers for the Lightning and a top player amongst the league. With JT's talent and skill, it's not unreasonable to see the same unfold for him.

6:42 - HOO AHHH! Two players collide with the ref in the corner behind the Isles net and his microphone accidentally gets turned on. The crowd, which seems to have lost a bit of focus this period as it has been a little slow, woke up to a loud HOO AHH that echoed throughout the arena.

2:43 - The pace seems to be picking up a bit. Maybe both teams realized that we are close to ending this game.

2:22 - As fellow blogger Mike Schurlein just said, why does it seem that every time Park shoots it's a controversial play? His shot from the goal line came from along the boards and either hit the post and crossed the line or was just along the goal line. The replay they just showed on the jumbotron is very very close. So close that I think it will be inconclusive.

And I am happily wrong! The ref announced that the puck clearly crossed the goal line upon further review. The Isles now have a 5-4 lead and are just 22 seconds away from winning this game in regulation.

1:42 - The assists go to Weight and Moulson. Shots are 39-33 in favor of the Lightning.

31.9 - The Lightning pretty much controlled the play with their net empty for the past minute. Biron makes a glove save, Malone and Sutton exchance a few words, and Tampa takes a time-out before probably the most important face-off of the game.

03.8 - Scratch that. This will be the most important face-off in the Isles zone with just over three seconds remaining. Time-out for the Isles.

01.0 - Biron makes a huge glove save...just one more second to go as my face is exposed on the Jumbotron as the drunken fools in front of me parade in excitement.

0:00 - And the Isles hold on to win this one in regulation after being down 2-1 in the first. Final shots are 42 for the Lightning and 33 for the Islanders. And now it's time for me head downstairs to the locker room. Come hang out tomorrow night as the Isles will host the Ottawa Senators at 5PM for another live blog. Thanks for stopping by!

-Rob McGowan

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