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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nielsen Nets One In OT

Bruins 2: Islanders 3

I'd almost forgotten what Nassau Coliseum looks like on TV when I turned on MSG Plus last night. Indeed, the Islanders had played only 3 of their last 17 games on home ice, so the sight of Long Island was no doubt a welcome one for them, as well as for their fans.

The road hasn't exactly been kind to them, even when you consider their faceoff percentages. But little of that mattered last night, as they took on the Boston Bruins in a tightly-played, quite entertaining game that ended with Frans Nielsen's beautiful OT game-winner.

But the best place to start is at the beginning, so that's where we'll go. At 3:58 of the first period, after good chances on both sides, Rob Schremp broke the scoring open with his first NHL goal, on the power play. Matt Moulson was at the front of the net and deflected a shot Kyle Okposo took. While Bruins goalie Tim Thomas had his hands full and lost the puck, Schremp was able to bank it off of him and into the back of the net. Gotta love the effort- and the celebration, as he pumped his fist emphatically and leaped into Mark Streit's arms afterward.

The lead didn't last till the first intermission, however, as Michael Ryder fired a nice high shot right over the glove of Dwayne Roloson to tie it at 1. Both teams played a great game on both sides of the puck, creating chances as well as taking the other team's away. Both goaltenders- Roloson and Thomas- were quite good also.

The Bruins had a goal disallowed late in the first that would have given them a 2-1 lead earlier, as the referees ruled that Marco Sturm had hit the puck into the net while his stick was well above the crossbar. The Bruins took the lead anyway in the second period, on David Krejci's fifth goal of the year. The puck had bounced badly over Blake Comeau's stick as the Isles attempted to clear, and the Bruins jumped on the opportunity. Vladimir Sobotka passed it to Ryder in front, who got it over to Krejci for the goal.

With about five minutes to go in the period, Matt Moulson tied it up once more. It started with a great play by Kyle Okposo on the wall. He saw John Tavares behind the net and passed to him with a man on, and Tavares caught Moulson in front of the net. Moulson was then able to get just enough on the puck to lift it over Thomas and into the net.

In the third period, the Bruins were oh-so-close to running away with the game, were it not for-once again- the play of Roloson. He made 17 saves as the Isles were drastically outshot and ended up taking some penalties as well, and was perhaps the best player on the ice in that time frame. Bailed out by his saves, all the Isles had to do was score one goal, and Tavares almost did- but at the last second, Dennis Wideman made a desperate (and awesome, gotta admit) leg save to help out Thomas and force the game to OT.

However, we can't overlook the great play of everyone involved, particularly the two-way play of one Blake Comeau. Last night was a coming-out of sorts for him- he had some great hits and some great plays to force the puck the other way. The biggest one of all was in overtime. Boston turned over the puck in the Isles zone, he got ahold of it and sprung Frans Nielsen on a breakaway. As Thomas sprawled out in his crease, Nielsen lifted the puck over him and went down into the boards as he scored, thankfully unhurt and joyous. The three on the ice with him leaped onto him and celebrated a great win for the Isles.

Just to clarify, I did call an OT win, though I thought it would be 4-3. The Bruins fan I was watching it with said 5-3 Boston. Typical Boston fan- arrogantly assuming his team would dominate. :) It was a fun game to watch, though, and one where everyone played their game and brought all they had to the table. Honestly, I don't think there was one player would had an off game, and that is a wonderful thing. Let's hope that continues!


Notes: Jack Hillen went down in the first period with an ankle/foot injury after taking a hard shot there... he attempted to come back later on in the game, but ultimately went back to the locker room for the night... in his place, Mark Streit logged around 29 minutes of ice time, sheesh... Okposo had two assists on the night... Michael Ryder, Rob Schremp and Nielsen were the three stars of last night's game.

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