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Saturday, January 9, 2010

DiPietro In Net as Isles Fall Short

Islanders 3: Stars 4

Well, it wasn't a bad start. Wasn't a good one, either.

Filled to the brim with mistakes and missed calls, this matchup between the Stars and Isles at American Airlines Center was probably entertaining from a fan's perspective, if maddening for the respective coaches of each team. The one person everyone's eyes were on, though, no matter the score, was the goaltender in net for New York.

Rick DiPietro made his first start since January 2, 2009, and turned aside 24 of 28 shots as the Isles lost to the Stars, 4-3. The Islanders got goals from Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo, and Frans Nielsen on bad turnovers by the Stars; however, Dallas prevailed, throwing all they had and then some on DiPietro and ultimately getting the edge.

Some highlights of the game:

- the biggest of all, DiPietro was okay, not spectacular in net, but I'd like to see you try getting into a net after a year of rehab and looking any better. His reaction time got better over the course of the game, and his lateral movements were all right. He did allow a bad rebound for Brad Richards' game-winning goal in the second period, but with Andy Sutton and Nate Thompson both right in front of him, you would think one of them would've seen it and cleared it. Not the case, and Richards gets a gimme for his 13th of the year. The D otherwise tried their best to help out, doing a good job in the beginning but getting steadily sloppier over time. Overall, not sharp, but expected. It's going to take a while to get there.

- talk about mistakes. Marty Turco, in net for the Stars, is likely not happy with his overall performance; though he did get the win (just scraped by), he definitely didn't handle the puck well and was shaky at best throughout the match. One rebound in the first ends up being Bailey's 10th of the year to tie it at three; he turns his back to the play and ends up not even seeing Kyle Okposo's goal go past him; then, he completely flubs a clearing attempt instead of freezing the puck, has Matt Moulson strip him and hit Nielsen with a pass for Nielsen's first goal in six games, and 7th of the year.

-I would have liked to see more sustained offensive pressure from the Isles based on Turco's performance; however, it didn't happen. The Isles had all sorts of trouble clearing the puck out of their own zone and allowed Dallas to maintain possession, and the Stars were only too happy to throw all they had and then some at a cold DP. The best offensive pressure all game, in my opinion, was in the last minute of the game with an extra skater on for New York. Jack Hillen just missed Turco's glove side, and then John Tavares hit the post on a backhand shot. Turco, meanwhile, apparently chose a good time to channel Marty Brodeur, making a couple of good saves to preserve the two points for his club. Too little, too late for the Isles.

- How well is Josh Bailey playing lately? One goal, one assist tonight, and a five-game points streak. Even Scott Gordon admits he looks stronger on the ice and is gaining confidence, now unafraid to go to the net and shoot. I also think it helps that he's playing more with Kyle Okposo- those two had good chemistry last season, and when Okposo got moved around on different lines, first with Tavares at center and then Nielsen, Bailey never really found his groove again. Here's to hoping it works out for Josh!

- let's not talk about the refs missing a fair few calls, now, shall we? Oy.

With all of that said, the Isles will try it again, this time likely with Martin Biron in net, in Phoenix at 6 pm. Pregame, 5:30. Be there.

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