Maple Leafs 1: Islanders 3
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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.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Well... the Isles won!
That's one thing Islanders fans have to cheer them up if they wake up this morning and find themselves stressed, depressed or distressed; after losing four straight, three at home, this should bring a bit of happiness during this holiday season.
Though it took the Isles a while to break open the scoring, they executed wonderful defensive play (particularly Andy Sutton) and were able to hold off the Maple Leafs, 2-1, thanks to Sutton's and other players' shot blocks and some key late saves by Dwayne Roloson. The forwards in this game- Matt Moulson and Blake Comeau, to name a few- also did well on D, as well as getting some good chances on net that were just not enough to get past Jonas Gustavsson. However, they stayed calm, stayed disciplined for the most part, and finally got the payoff they were looking for.
At the end of the first period, Butch Goring mentioned that he saw the team working quite hard out there; however, he could tell they were struggling with some fatigue and dragging as they got off the ice. No doubt this win was welcome, as will be the break that follows until Saturday.
Nevertheless, many of the guys went all out and provided some great play for the Islanders. Both goals were scored in the second period; first, Trent Hunter pulled off a nice toe drag and beat Gustavsson on the far side to put the Isles up 1-0. Then, after a non-goal by the Leafs was deemed so (a Leaf batted the puck in with an obvious high stick) Blake Comeau dragged Gustavsson out of position, leaving the net open for Tavares to put it away. The Isles did a great job over two periods minimizing the Leafs' chances and especially taking away the impact of both Phil Kessel and Jason Blake. They allowed only 13 shots by the Leafs over the first 40 minutes of play.
The third period, however, wasn't the same. Niklas Hagman put the Leafs on the board within the first three minutes, and all of a sudden the Leafs were the ones dominating play and making the Isles scramble to keep up. At one point they were outshooting the Isles 10-2; but players such as Sutton, Nate Thompson (who was fortunate to still be playing- I'll tell you why later) and of course Roloson stepped up and staved them off. Rollie had an incredible save late in the third, after Alexei Ponikarovsky missed a wide-open net and another Leaf tried to keep the play alive. Then, in a weird series of events and with Gustavsson on the bench for an extra skater, Blake Comeau charged toward the open net for a goal and was taken down, hurtling into the net himself. The rule is that if there are grounds for a penalty shot, but there is no goalie in net, a goal is immediately awarded. That is probably the easiest goal Comeau will ever get, and that made it 3-1.
This was a well-played game defensively, and though the Isles allowed a goal and bent ever so slightly, they didn't lose their heads completely. Full marks to Sutton for a brilliant defensive performance; it's a shame he didn't get a star for the night because he was just that good, and has been all month. Comeau also had an excellent game; he's been playing very well as of late, and in my opinion might become a great defensive forward. There are still some things that could be changed, such as the power play (I'm sure everyone knows Mark Streit's going to be carrying the puck up the ice by now; change it up, why not put a guy like Jack Hillen up there, he's a good puck-moving D) but overall, considering the level of fatigue that these guys are no doubt experiencing, this was a game well-played. Next game will be on Saturday night against the Rangers- the Isles' third meeting with them this month, and already their fourth of six this season.
LET'S GO ISLANDERS!!
Notes: The Isles outshot Toronto 27-22... Nate Thompson very nearly had his eye cut out in the second period, as he barreled over Mike Komisarek along the boards. Komisarek's right skate nicked him on the cheekbone just under his left eye; Nate did return, however, and played a good game... Jeff Tambellini and Freddy Meyer remained healthy scratches.
P.S. Christine and I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!! Enjoy, and be safe!!!