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A blog by a long time New York Islanders fan who stays true to the fellas wearing orange, white and blue…but thinks the Islanders organization has some shaping up to do.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Bolts Hunt-ed In Overtime

Islanders 4 : Lightning 3 (OT)

If there was one thing missing from Trent Hunter's game last year, it was productivity. Only 12 goals (49 points overall) came from the physical forward all season, and he often seemed a step behind in the play. However, as of late, he seems to be in precisely the right place at the right time. Having scored four goals combined in four games as of today, he scored two of those four, including the overtime winner, last night in a game that perhaps should not have taken 60 minutes and 51 seconds to complete.

For the fourth straight game, Joey MacDonald started in net in place of Rick DiPietro, who might hopefully see the ice on Saturday against Florida, as mentioned by Scott Gordon. MacDonald himself did what he had to do, making 33 saves but not getting tested hard until the third period. The Islanders, as a whole, started off strong and with good effort, building a 2-0 lead over two periods on goals by Mike Comrie and Doug Weight (PP, his second this season). The defense was tough and on target, especially Freddy Meyer, who has continued to impress with his play over the last few games. Although Tampa Bay got a decent amount of shots on goal, the D kept the Bolts from getting quality chances on goal, and throughout the game they took an indecent amount of penalties that gave the Isles tons of chances on offense that they could not capitalize on, despite many shots on the PP (which still needs a little bit of work, although it's largely flowing smoothly as of late).

In the third, though, the Lightning would finally get some offense together, as Vincent Lecavalier opened up and slipped one past MacDonald's pads to make it 2-1, and then Vaclav Prospal turned a huge carom into a goal at 12:02 to tie it up. The Isles took only 1:49 to respond, on Hunter's first goal of the night, but then Ryan Malone, the former Penguins forward with a shiny new contract, tied it up once more with 5:03 to go. The goal exchange was fast, furious, and frustrating to a viewer unsure if the Isles would come away with two points after all.

Fortunately, veteran goalie Olaf Kolzig would get caught wandering early into OT, having come behind net to play the puck and giving it away to Frans Nielsen. Nielsen held onto the puck for a moment, patiently waiting for Hunter to join the play, and then skipped him the pass, which Hunter calmly backhanded for the gamewinner.

The effort was there for the Isles, a nice change from the listless play of Monday afternoon which resulted in a 7-1 Sabres win; however, some key breakdowns led to Lightning opportunities, and Barry Melrose's squad was only too happy to jump on the chances that the D eventually began to provide them. On top of that, the Islanders were unable to put more chances past Kolzig despite all of the chances on the man-advantage, a fact that might be because of the caliber of shots they had, or maybe because of the PP, which scored once but not more than that over the whole game. The good thing about this team, though, is their resilience; they bent, but didn't break, and were able to come back and get two points instead of just one.

Next up is Florida, against a Panthers team that seems to be a tough one for the Isles to crack; but all the Isles need to do is keep the intensity level high and the shots coming, as well as the play clean and disciplined. Also, the D has to make sure they play as well as they did in the beginning of the Tampa Bay game- tough, physical, and with each player covering his man. No giving the Panthers any easy goals.


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