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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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Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Monumental Breakdown

Canadiens 5: Islanders 4

It was the classic example of counting your chickens, and it turned into a nightmare worthy of Freddie Kruger for Islanders fans at the Coliseum last night. They watched in horror as a 4-1 lead turned into a 5-4 deficit in the third period, and as the team let two points slip from their fingers. Instead of their first win in weeks, it turned into their worst start to date- 2-7-1. All of this after the best 40 minutes of Isles hockey you could ask for.
What went wrong?

The game started with an early Montreal goal by Alexei Kovalev, just 2:03 in. 22 seconds later, an Andrei Markov penalty allowed the Isles to answer fast, off the stick of former Habs D Mark Streit, to the chagrin of the many Habs fans having traveled from the north to occupy the Coliseum's most expensive seats. Then, the Isles would take their first lead since October 16, as goaltender Carey Price got caught daydreaming and let a softie slip past for Jon Sim to celebrate over. At the other end, goaltender Yann Danis, in his first start of the season, recovered well from the early hiccup, making 10 saves, including a breakway pad stop on Saku Koivu.

Then, in the second, the floodgates opened.
Alex Tanguay took a penalty 57 seconds in to give the Isles a power-play, and one of the nicest plays to date ensued- Trent Hunter to Doug Weight to Bill Guerin, who redirected the puck past Price for a 3-1 lead. A toe-to-toe bout between Georges Laraque and newcomer, 6'8'' Mitch Fritz would not swing the momentum in the Habs' favor, and Frans Nielsen scored his first of the year on a pretty backhand over a committed Price before the closing horn. Only one penalty was taken by the Isles to this point, and the PK made sure Montreal didn't capitalize and come to life. The Islanders were rolling now, winning nearly three-fourths of faceoffs and playing their best, most complete game yet.

And then, somehow, they simply strayed from the game plan. And kept taking draws in their own zone. And let Montreal take shot after shot, and faceoff after faceoff, and every loose puck, seemingly. And then Tomas Plekanec scored twice in 2:07. The Isles D started to scramble, and got lost in their own zone, as Chris Higgins scored to tie the score at 4. And then, as the rowdy Habs fans screamed themselves hoarse, Alexei Kovalev scored his second. And made the score 5-4. The Isles would manage a couple of shots on goal before the end, but Carey Price somehow became Henrik Lundqvist, and stopped everything. And the Isles, after 40 minutes of brilliance, of outshooting, outskating, and outscoring, unraveled before everyone's eyes. The look on Scott Gordon's face said it all- what in the world can be done?

5-4. 2-7-1. All numbers, but they lower the boom on what is a very young and brutal season for the Islanders thus far. It'll take more than words to take the bad taste out of their mouths after this one.

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