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Islanders 5, Rangers 3: Postgame Wrap-Up

The Recap: 

It was another come from behind win for the Islanders at Madison Square Garden.

Rick Nash scored twice in the first period to put the New York Rangers ahead 2-0. Matt Martin scored his first goal since November 1st to cut the lead to 2-1 late in the opening period, but Chris Kreider scored midway through the second to put the Rangers back in front by two. The Isles started their comeback moments after the Kreider goal. Thomas Hickey scored at 13:22 to make it a 3-2 game and Colin McDonald tied the game at 16:36.

Thomas Vanek scored the game winner with the Islanders on the power play with 4:38 left in regulation. Frans Nielsen sealed the win with the empty net goal.

The Good: 

-The Islanders continue to show relentless fight in their game. For the second consecutive contest the Isles fought back from a two goal deficit and came away with two important points. It’s something that they weren’t able to do earlier in the season and is a sign of a change in the team. There is more fight, grit and desperation in their game than there was earlier on.

-Say what you want about Kevin Poulin, but boy did he make the big saves when he had to. Yes he gave up three goals, but he held firm the rest of the way and with the Rangers buzzing in the final moments of the game he stopped the shots he had to. The Islanders don’t get the win without his strong play through the 60 minute contest.

-It was good to see Colin McDonald, Thomas Hickey and Matt Martin get on the score sheet. The Islanders need everyone going if they’re going to win and secondary scoring is huge for this team. So guys like the three previously mentioned are always good to see score some goals.

The Bad: 

-The Islanders’ top line is great offensively, but their defensive zone play has left a lot to be desired. They were on the ice for both Rick Nash goals in the first and have not played well in their own zone. It’s not just tonight that this has been the case, but more an ongoing problem.

Next Game: Thursday, January 23, vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

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Hurricanes 4, Islanders 3: Postgame Wrap-Up

The Recap: Three goals in the second period and one in the third did the Islanders in.

Jiri Tlusty gave the Hurricanes the lead 1:05 into the second period off a rebound shot that beat Evgeni Nabokov. Five minutes later Jordan Staal made it 2-0 Carolina. Staal was on the receiving end of a cross-ice pass from Ryan Murphy. It became a three goal lead at 13:37 when Jeff Skinner capitalized on an Islander blunder in their own zone.

Matt Moulson registered the first Islander goal at 18:53 of the second period during a man-advantage, But Tlusty registered his second goal of the game at 11:06 of the third to make it 4-1 Carolina.

The Islanders picked up their pace, after a rough two periods, and Frans Nielsen brought the Isles within two at 13:19 on the power play. With 1:01 left to play, Kyle Okposo cut the Carolina lead to one, but the Isles could not find the equalizer and fell 4-3.

The Good:

There was not much “good” from the Isles 4-3 loss to Carolina. They were lucky that Evgni Nabokov was not injured after getting run into by Matt Carkner in the second period.

The Islanders also did eventually battle back into the game after having two rough periods. To come within one goal after being down for the entire game is something….

The Bad:

After the Islanders had one of their most complete performances on Thursday night, Saturday was one of their worst. The first two periods were sloppy ones for the Isles. The power play struggled in the first period and they failed to convert on several empty net chances.

Defensively the Islanders took a hit when Lubomir Visnovsky left the game with a concussion in the first period. He will be evaluated tomorrow, but his loss was felt on the ice tonight. Several defensive miscues, including one by Matt Carkner, hurt the team. The most blaring one by Carkner came in the third period on the Tlusty goal, when Carkner got caught behind the play allowing an odd man rush for the Hurricanes.

Carkner’s performance Saturday night left much to be desired and could lead to Donovan being put back into the lineup for Tuesday.

The overall effort was a disappointing one, especially after it seemed the team had improved during Thursday night’s win over Edmonton. For two periods the battle level was not where it should have been from New York and Carolina made them pay in the second period.

Next Game: Tuesday, October 22, Vs. Vancouver Canucks

Islanders 3, Oilers 2: Postgame Wrap-Up

The Recap: The Islanders came away with a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

New York was first to get on the scoreboard. Josh Bailey recorded his third goal of the year to put the Islanders up 1-0. The Oilers answered back five minutes later, despite the Islanders outplaying them for much of the period. Former number one draft pick, Taylor Hall, scored two goals in the span of eight seconds. Hall broke an Oilers’ recorded for fastest goals scored, which was previously held by Wayne Gretzky.

The Islanders battled back and Kyle Okposo scored on the power play, courtesy of a beautiful setup by John Tavares and Matt Moulson.  After killing three consecutive penalties, Tavares rewarded his teammates effort by scoring the go ahead goal with 1:07 left in the second period.

The Isles held out in the third to secure their third win of the season.

The Good: 

– There was a lot of good for the Islanders, especially the resilience the team showed after giving two goals in eight seconds. The breakdown was bad, but the fact the team rallied back was a very encouraging sign. The Islanders could have simply gotten down on themselves and never recovered, but instead stuck with the game plan and they were rewarded for it.

– Speaking of rebounding from mistakes, the Islanders bounced back from Tuesday’s deflating 4-3 shootout lose to Buffalo. The Isles had a very similar situation as Tuesday going into the third period. They had a one goal lead, but unlike on Tuesday the Islanders did not let the extra point slip away. The team kept their attack going and did not allow the Oilers many chances to tie the game up.

– The Isles physical play against Edmonton was a big part of the win. They were not afraid to throw their body around or finish their checks, which rattled the Oilers and forced them to make several turnovers in their own zone. That style of play is what made the Isles so tough to play against late last season and in the playoffs.

– Individually several players had strong performances, most notable Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo. Both players got on the stat sheet Thursday night and both are continuing to have a good season so far. Okposo is starting to mesh well with John Tavares and Michael Grabner — though Capuano hinted that the top line could change — and looked very strong on the puck. Bailey showed off a bit of his stick handling ability during the win and continued to work well on the Isles second line.

– The Islanders penalty kill unit had a superb game as well tonight. After taking three consecutive penalties in the second period, the special teams unit managed to fend off the Oilers, keeping the to eight shots on three man-advantages. With the game tied at two, shutting down three straight chances for Edmonton to regain the lead was huge, to say the least.

The Bad: 

– There weren’t a lot of bad things from the Isles Thursday, but allowing two goals in eight seconds has to count in this category. Understandably, sometimes things like that happen to a team, but it is a situation that has the ability to swing the momentum of the game in the wrong direction. It’s not something the Islanders can afford to have happen again, especially against a higher caliber opponent.

– Also the team needs to avoid take penalties one after another. The Isles got a break since their PK unit did what it needed to do, but against a tougher opponent things might not go so well. There is only so many times a team can give their opponent an opportunity like that before they capitalize on one of them.

Next Game: Saturday, October 20th, Vs. Carolina Hurricanes

 

Sabres 4, Islanders 3 (SO): Postgame Wrap-Up

The Recap: The Islanders blew a late game lead and fell in the shootout, 4-3 to the Buffalo Sabres.

Frans Nielsen kicked off the scoring 13:11 into the first period. A quick wrister beat Ryan Miller high glove side to give the Islanders the 1-0 lead. The Sabres evened up the score early in the second period, courtesy of a flukey goal by Tyler Ennis. Matt Martin answered right back a little over a minute later to put the Islanders back in front 2-1.

Thomas Vanek tied the game right back up a minute after Martin’s goals, but in the third Matt Moulson scored to give the Islanders their third lead of the night. It would not stick, as Marcus Foligno tied things up with 2:01 left in the third period.

Overtime did not produce a winner and in the shootout the Sabres prevailed to get the 4-3 win.

The Good:

– After have a combined 35 shots in their last two games, the Islanders had 44 shots against the Sabres. The team’s lack of shots hurt them against Nashville and Chicago and it was something they knew needed to be addressed.

“We wanted to get more pucks on the net,” John Tavares said. “It’s no secrete we didn’t have too many on the road. I think at home you feel more comfortable. We felt a little more rested today and we had some good opportunities. It’s something that has to continue. I think more often than not you put up 40 chances, I like our chances.”

– Jack Capuano’s change in lines seemed to give the Isles offense a bit of a kick start tonight. Michael Grabner excelled on the top line with Tavares and Kyle Okposo. The trio created several scoring chances and both Tavares and Okposo liked how they played.

Tavares: “Grabby creates a lot of space with his speed. We had some chances.”
Okposo: “I thought Grabby did a good job with us. I thought we generated a lot of opportunities and we just have to burry. And they’re going to start to go in.”

– Pierre-Marc Bouchard also had a strong game on the second line with Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey. Nielsen and Bailey have proven to be a deadly line early this season, and adding Bouchard helped create several added chances for that line. Bouchard had an assist on the Nielsen goal and was on the ice for the Moulson power play goal.

– Cal Clutterbuck also had a strong game. He led the team with eight hits in the game and even fulfilled every Isles fans dream of playing on a line with Matt Martin.

The Bad: 

– The obvious bad here is the Islanders blowing a lead late in the game. It’s bad when you squander a lead to a good team, but to allowing a Sabres’ team that did not have a win coming int the game to stay a live in a contest is rough.

The Islanders should have had the win tonight, especially with the Sabres coming off a 2-1 loss to Minnesota the night before. The Islanders kept Buffalo in the game and the Sabres made the Islanders pay.

Moral of the story: Don’t let you’re opponent stay in a game.

– In their own zone, the Islanders did not play well. They had trouble clearing the puck, even in the periods they played well. Defensively, It is something that will need to be addressed before Thursday’s meeting with the Edmonton Oilers.

Next Game:  Thursday, October 18, 2013 Vs.

Islanders 4, Devils 3 (SO): Post Game Notebook

NEWARK, N.J. – The Islanders came away with the 4-3 win in the shootout. Matt Moulson scored the game-winner in the sixth round of the shootout, Michael Grabner recorded three points (two goals, one assist), and Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves in the Islander win.

But by no stretch of the imagination was this win a cakewalk for the Isles.

They played from behind most of the game and their play was sloppy for a better part of the contest. A lot of the first and second periods were spent chasing the puck in their own zone and Nabokov was shaky.

The Islanders top line was not as efficient as it usually is and head coach Jack Capuano noted that in his post game press conference.
“Johnny’s line struggled because they didn’t manage the puck real well,” Capuano told reporters. “We talked about turnovers and I thought that line didn’t manage it properly. That’s why they got hemmed in their own zone quite a bit tonight. But again it’s game one and there’s some things we have to do better, but there were some things that we did well.”

Michael Grabner

Making up for the lack of production from the top line was Grabner and his line mates. Grabner scored the Islanders first two goals of the season and had a  hand in the third goal put home by Frans Nielsen.

Grabner was flying around the ice all night long and was the Isles best player the through the entire game. Despite the fact everyone knows about Grabner’s speed he was still able to get a lot of open ice. He was one of the few bright spots for the Islanders early on in the game

” I’m just trying to get to open ice, and obviously the puck has to find its’ way there too,” Grabner said after the game. “They made some great plays where I can use my speed and I could capitalize on my chances. It’s worked pretty good today.”

His line overall was the best of the night. The  chemistry he and Nielsen displayed, especially during Nielsen’s goal, was a big since the Isles top line didn’t have the strongest of games.

The Kids 

Both Brock Neslon and Matt Donovan had strong games in the season opener. Both players saw upwards of 20 minutes of action and Donovan even got time on the power play.

Donovan also registered his first career NHL point.

“I’ve been waiting a while for that one,” Donovan said about the milestone. “It felt good, it feels good right now and I just have to get geared up for tomorrow night.”

Both players seemed to fit in well and  are adjusting to the NHL’s speed and intensity. There were some small mistakes, like Nelson taking a bad retaliatory penalty in the third period and one instance where a Devil was able to blow by Donovan. But overall it was a strong showing for both rookies.

Goaltending

On display against New Jersey was how good Evgeni Nabokov can be and how shaky he can be, all in one game.

Nabokov made 26 saves in the win, sometimes doing so in spectacular fashion. Other times not so much. During the first two periods Nabokov looked like he was fighting the puck and seemed a step or two off. Though when it mattered most Nabokov found his rhythm.

In the third Nabokov made several big stops and stoned all six Devil players in the shootout.

“He played phenomenal tonight,” Moulson said of Nabokov’s play. “First shift through the shootout. If we’re going to win games you need him to play big just like he did last year. He played great again tonight.”

Post Game Quotes

Grabner on the Frans Nielsen goal: “We had a bit of a quick break there. It was a great play by Donovan to move the puck and then we had a short three-on-two there and obviously Frans made a great play to score from that angle. Overall it was a pretty good play from our zone out.”

Grabner on what the team takes away from Friday’s win: ” Take away that we won. We did some good stuff out there. There is obviously stuff we have to work on, D-zone, those little things, but it’s the first game. I think we’re pretty confident we can clean it up pretty quick.”

Nabokov on the shootout: “Sometimes it’s part of the luck. Sometimes they couldn’t raise the puck. Sometimes I read them and I knew what they were going to do. So luck is a big part of the shootout, but I was trying to follow the puck and make sure my gaps were good.”

Looking Ahead

The Isles have a quick turnaround with the Blue Jackets Saturday at the Coliseum. With all the pre-game festivities going on, expect face-off at 7:14 or so tonight.

Devils 3, Islanders 0: (Late) Post Game Notebook

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BROOKLYN — The Barclays Center may take some getting used, to but for the most part it was a hit. The game itself took a backseat to the fact that Barclays will be the Isles home in two years and this was the first taste fans were getting of the new building.

Did the building have some quirks? Yes. There were obstructed views. In the upper level the seats were steep and walking up the stairs did feel a bit like climbing a mountain. The main concourse was wide a spacious, but the upper level concourse was smaller. That being said, it was still better than Nassau Coliseum’s concourse.

The fact that there were no seats behind one goal, was a real non issue, to me at least. After a while you didn’t even notice it, and as a matter of fact there were fans sitting behind the goal they were just in the upper level. Or they were sitting at the VIP tables by the glass down low.

The video board, which was off center, was another non issue. Like many reporters saw last thursday on the team’s opening day of camp, the fact it’s over the blue line and not center ice isn’t that big of a deal.

Travis Hamonic probably summed it up the best during post game. “Everyone talked about the scoreboard, but if it wasn’t for you guys talking about it I wouldn’t even noticed how it was centered,” he said.

The LIRR trip will take some time for fans to get used to. Prior to game, trains were packed with Islander fans which is a good sign to see people at least trying the train. If Mets, Yankees, Jets, Giants, Knicks and Ranger fans can do it… I think Islander fans will manage as well.

Sight lines are going to be the big issues for games at the Barclays Center going forward. Consensus seems to be in the lower level the view was fine, but up higher is where the mixed reviews came in. The fans I spoke with, casually, all seemed to like building and didn’t have a problem with the view. But some on social media have been very vocal about their displeasure about the view.

This will be an area the Barclays Center will have to address, but with two years to fine tune things there they do have time.

The only complaint on the players end was the ice conditions.

“The ice was a little rough out there,” Kyle Okposo said after the game. “The puck was bouncing a lot, but that will come with experience for them and the crew.”

Matt Martin agreed the ice was bad, but chalked it up to being just the second time the ice has been used.

“it was the first game,” he said. “People have only skated on this ice twice, so it was the first time anyone has played here. They have a few years to iron that stuff out….  I think they do the best they can with it. It’s obviously not an easy thing, so I thought they did pretty well over all.”

Okposo Takes Stick to Eye

Last night Kyle Okposo left the game after catching a stick to the face in the third period.

His left eye was a bit swollen after the game and had to receive a few stitches after the, but he said he was fine. “It feels alright. Just a little sore,” he said.

Special Teams

The Isles special teams unit needed some work. They had chances on the power play, but couldn’t convert. And their PK had some issues.

“We gave up two power play goals,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “We just got out of the box on the face-off, but there are some things we need to work on special teams, for sure. It’s something that we’ve talked about. We’ve hit on. Next week will be a big week for us as far as hitting a little bit more stride on some of those areas.”

On the man-advantage Capuano placed Matt Moulson,  John Tavares and Okposo on the first power play line, with Lubomir Visnovsky and Frans Nielsen on point. Josh Bailey, Colin McDonald and Matt Martin played on the second unit, with Matt Donovan and Pierre-Marc Bouchard playing point.

 

Post-Game Notebook: Isles Lose in SO to Sabres 2-1

Read the full game story for New York Hockey Journal here

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Islanders fell to the Sabres 2-1 in the shootout, and while the secured one point in the standings, they now need a bit of help from the New Jersey Devils and/or the Philadelphia Flyers to keep them out of finishing eighth.

The Devils and Rangers play today at 3 p.m. and the Flyers take on the Ottawa Senator today at 7 p.m.

As for last night’s game, the Islanders started off slow and made too many sloppy mistakes that gave the Sabres opportunity after opportunity. Buffalo did make a few mistakes of their own, but the Isles never cashed in until the early third period goal by Keith Aucoin.

The power play was mostly a no show for a better part of the game, though the last man advantage the Isles had did generate several chance. Through their last five games the Islanders have gone 1-for-16 on the power play. It is area that the coaching staff is aware has to be worked on.

“It’s something that we have to address,” head coach Jack Capuano said last night. “Special teams goes up and down throughout the year. Our power, we just have to get a little more urgency to our game and making sure we’re converging. Get to those tough areas and we didn’t do a great job of that tonight.”

Of course another area to address was the sloppy play the Islanders have been exhibiting the past few games. Last night, and the night before for that matter, was not the same Islander squad that has caught the eyes of the entire NHL over the past month. Travis Hamonic was very blunt last night in saying that his team “showed up for maybe 15 minutes” and it was very accurate. It wasn’t until the lucky break that allowed Aucoin to score that the Islanders really started to put the screws on the Sabres.

That will be something that the team will need to work on, and will work on, as they prepare for their first round opponent.

Post-Game Quotes:

Keith Aucoin:

On the lucky bounce:
“I was able to get a good bounce off the boards and it was so high miller wasn’t able to get it. He kind of lunged and had a five-hole wide open.”

On game performance:
“The first forty weren’t good for us, but the last twenty was pretty good. Once we got that goal we kind of got the momentum and started to play the way we’re capable of playing. We have to do that from the first 20, we can’t wait till the last 10. Once we got that goal we played the way we’re capable of playing.”

Evgeni Nabokov:

On what you carry over from the regular season:
“You always want to remember what took you to this point. Why we were so successful in the last month and a half. We just have to do those things and maybe more. Everything is going to quicker, more physical, more edgy and we have to be ready for that because it’s going to be a hard, hard searies. It doesn’t matter who it’s going to be.”

Jack Capuano:

On turning the page:
“That’s what we talked about after. We came back, we got the point, we didn’t win the skills competition, but told them after the game that they deserve this opportunity to move forward. The past is the past. We’ll meet when we get back, we’ll get some rest here and we’ll move forward. It’s an exciting time for the guys.”