New York Islander Fan Central | 1/29/2009 10:01:00 PM Atlanta Thrashers
Sports Network & Associated Press: Recaps New York's 5-4 win against the Thrashers in Atlanta.
NYI Fan Central Comments:
Did you really expect it to be easy?
Islanders played a game in Atlanta last February, they led 3-0/4-3 and needed an overtime goal to finally win which was their last stand in 07-08. We all know how the earlier game in Atlanta played out with the Islanders blowing a 3-1 lead, losing 4-3.
Atlanta is around the top ten in league scoring and dead last in goals allowed, these are the kind of hockey games they play which is why we see so many wild games especially when they play in Atlanta.
The 2008-09 New York Islanders are not built for that kind of hockey game, they are built for the Atlanta team that came out to start this game who were terrible in all three zones. Thrashers did not backcheck, skate or win the puck and got some brutal goaltending from Kari Lehtonen.
The stick-check from Bailey and pass to Okposo for his early goal was amazing, the key third period play where Comeau fed Bailey who found Okposo was another beauty with the game in the balance.
Okposo beyond his goals simply looked dominating at times the way he was driving the net and backchecking which Billy Jaffe did a fine job illustrating at one point. I think that was the best overall game in his young career.
This combined with some of Frans Nielsen's plays are what Garth Snow's plan should be about along with every feed Mark Sreit can set up his teammates which is why Trent Hunter opened the scoring.
Thrashers were so poor in the first it easily could have been six or seven goals, Bill Guerin hit a post, a few other chances down low, Weight finally banged in a rebound.
Yann Danis made that big save on Kovalchuk to close the first but as soon as the second opened Atlanta started skating and taking the play at the Islanders who did not score on some key powerplays that could have put the game away.
Islanders offense dried up in the second aside from a few spurts and they had only three shots in the third not counting Hunter's post. Without Danis strong play they do not win here despite the four goals which he did not have much chance on beyond the Reasoner goal where Martinek lost his man but blocked what looked like an open net for Peverly shortly afterward.
Brendan Witt was good in this game again, Kovalchuk hit him and he got the worst of it. That extra step is clearly visible in his skating. Saw a solid game from the rest of the defenders.
So what happened in the third? Atlanta does what their record says they can do, skate and score some goals in bunches. One outside shot, you could see the 4-2 goal coming as soon as Gervais-Comeau failed to finish and were caught. Long time since I have seen a goal and a penalty, Park had it called on him.
Martinek lost Reasoner.
Finally Atlanta gambled and lost, Comeau to Bailey to Okposo was just an amazing setup. Nielsen drew a powerplay after that to take off the pressure.
Scott Gordon or the assistants seemed to make it hard on the Islanders at the end.
Why is Jackman-Hilbert-Thompson this teams go-to players in the final minutes of a close game? Nielsen, Okposo did not get on the ice until the final ten seconds.
We saw this same strategy against Anaheim in the final minute.
Not a ton of impact from the new veteran line tonight in their shifts after the first period. Weight had his goal and some early shots, Comrie had a partial breakaway early but little else.
They faded in the third with the rest of the team.
Someone is going to have to explain to me why Richard Park is in Jeff Tambellini's spot and what becomes of him and Comrie when Bergenheim returns?
Jackman plays with a ton of heart, is mildly effect at times with the puck and brings grit (tonight he had a goal) but seeing him against a superstar like Kovalchuk in the final minutes is just a bad strategy and the same goes for a fringe player like Thompson.
It's things like this that make me wonder about this coach. You are not trusting your franchise prospects or letting a Guerin-Weight decide the game. I'm not sure what this is.
Ok, the Islanders finally got a twenty first century road win (not counting NHL overtime point in Buffalo) which would have been a tie in 72-73 and have gained five of the last six points.
They have been better than competitive. I wanted the shutout for Danis but he'll have to settle for another win.