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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, January 2, 2009

Isles Roll Over Panthers

Panthers 2: Islanders 4

With Sean Bergenheim back in and Mitch Fritz out on waivers, the Islanders looked to have some jump in their step in a New Year's Eve matinee, winning over the Florida Panthers 4-2.

Granted, this was a Florida team only one game over .500, and not playing well lately, although two points out of a playoff spot coming into this game. Meanwhile, the Isles had lost two straight (one in a shootout vs Buffalo) and were faced with their last chance to win in the month of December, and the year of 2008- and they made good on it.

In the first period, Florida had the first eight shots and arguably the first goal of the game. I say arguably because the Islanders did score first, off a shot by Richard Park, but a questionable goalie interference call on Jon Sim disallowed it. Sim was seen by the linesman who called it to have turned into Tomas Vokoun and "prevented" him from cleanly playing the puck. Why there wasn't a replay on this call, I will never know- on TV it clearly showed that Vokoun was at the top of the crease and skated up into Sim. Almost three minutes later, Brett McLean scored his second of the season on a redirection of a shot by Nick Boynton.

The second and third could have easily slipped away from the Islanders after that, but they kept their head and took advantage of the Panthers' weak defense and lack of aggression. Mike Comrie scored two of the three Isles goals in the second, the first of which went under review because of the question of whether he kicked it in or not. It was ruled good- he was jockeying for position with a Florida player and redirected Kyle Okposo's shot without the dreaded "distinct kicking motion." Credit Brendan Witt with a phantom assist for creating the transition with his stretch pass to Okposo in the neutral zone. Comrie's second goal came on the power play, on an assist from Doug Weight (that's point #999!). The two goals gave him four goals in three games, and further proved just how well he is playing alongside the youngsters, Okposo and Blake Comeau.

With 23 seconds to go in the second, Bergenheim broke into the offensive zone with a bank pass to himself and then a nifty little move that chipped the puck off the post, but went in when Vokoun whacked at it with his glove. After being scratched last game against the Rangers because of his penchant for taking penalties, Bergenheim was on his best behavior, and played a very good game. His goal put the Isles up 3-1 going into the third.

The third saw a couple more senseless penalties by the Islanders, which put them into a bit of a sticky situation with a two-goal lead and a history of squandering them late in games, but thankfully the PK was sharp, and so was Joey Mac, who made 27 saves altogether. Mark Streit made the Panthers pay on yet another penalty, capping off a nice passing play with a blast from the point to score his eighth of the year. Nathan Horton cut the lead to 4-2 in garbage time, but it didn't dampen the Isles' win, only their second of December, but one that will hopefully help them start the New Year off right.

Notes: Trevor Smith made his NHL debut in this game, filling in for Mike Sillinger (hip). He looked very solid, blocking two shots and also driving to net often... Comrie had his 18th two-goal game of his career. He has never had a hat trick... Trent Hunter has made the trip to Phoenix for Jan. 2's game, but did not play this game due to general body soreness after his scary collision with a door in the boards at MSG on Monday night.

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