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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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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Campoli's Two Help Avoid Unlucky Seven

Blue Jackets 3: Islanders 4 (OT)

One year ago last night, the Islanders won Al Arbour's 1,500th game for him in dramatic fashion against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Last night, with Arbour no longer present behind the bench, they did so once more- with a little too much drama than a fan would hope for.

Indeed, Isles fans likely thought they were stuck with the worst possible case of deja vu ever reported- yet another game only played for 40 minutes, and yet another 3-goal lead squandered over the third period. But the Isles of last night learned their lesson, and found a way to deny the Columbus Blue Jackets another point- and that way came in the form of Chris Campoli.

The first period was uneventful, but that was just the way Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock wanted it to be- methodical, almost lethargic, as to lull the Isles into a false sense of security and then break out and catch them by surprise. However, that never happened over the first 40 minutes of the game. The Jackets maintained puck possession and faceoffs in the first, outshooting the Isles 13-7 and winning twice the amount of draws (12-6). However, they failed to knock one past Joey MacDonald, who looked well-rested and pretty much on his game.

The Isles took over and poured it on in the second period. First came the hardworking Richard Park, who stuffed it past Fredrik Norrena (25 saves) for his first of the year, which made me and Christine very happy. (After all, Park is one of the Isles we cheer on often.) The Isles took penalty after penalty, but the Jackets, falling flat fast, were unable to score; in fact, the most blatant sign of their frustration early on came when Fredrik Modin missed a wide-open net, shooting the puck wide. Bill Guerin took what was perhaps the most frustrating penalty midway through, but made up for it about three seconds after coming out of the box, as Joey Mac headmanned a great play to Richard Park, who banked it up the left side and hit Guerin on the breakaway. Norrena couldn't stay patient, diving right for the two-pad stack, and Guerin went left, slipping it right past for the 2-0 lead. Then Campoli got going shorthanded, with a scrum in front resulting in the puck bouncing onto his stick, and then into the net. 3-0, Isles. 20 minutes left to play. Sounded easy to any other team.

But nothing comes easy for either the Isles or their fans lately, and after what was probably a very sound tongue-lashing on the Jackets by Hitchcock, they came out ready to play, as the Isles' skates seemingly got stuck on the ice-again. Marc Methot scored a wrap-around goal to cut the lead to 3-1. Then, 1:12 later, new Jacket R.J. Umberger tipped it in on the power-play, after six solid penalty kills for the Isles (which still needs to be remedied- why so many penalties??). Another Umberger goal tied the score at 3 and had Isles fans' heads spinning. The Jackets continued to outshoot the Isles all game, not to mention throughout the third period (at one point, they were outshooting New York 8-3), and they stole one point after a game pretty much dominated by the Isles, at least in the second.

Overtime came, and with that the calm, collected play of Joey Mac, as coach Scott Gordon noted that his play was key to keeping the Isles on top. He kept good positioning all game, made clean glove saves, and also had some noteworthy stops that the crowd was too happy to acknowledge. And then finally, Mike Comrie broke out with the puck. He hung onto it perhaps for too long, and lost it, but Bruno Gervais picked it up and shot for a Norrena save, and the rebound came right to Campoli, whose first shot bounced out of the net but was apparently a goal. For good measure, after a short celebration, Campoli picked it up once more and shot another bullseye, this time for the OT win- one a bit delayed in coming, but a win all the same, and a reason for Gordon to breathe a sigh of relief.

Tonight, the Isles look to carry the momentum over to the Garden for their first road matchup with the Rangers on Election Night. No saying who the players would vote for, and for good measure, we choose to keep sports and politics apart *wink*. It should be a spirited game tonight, as it always is between city rivals in the Battle of New York.


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