The New York Islanders picked up 2 more important points in Toronto last night. At this point, every game is important, but they are simply becoming more critical as the Rangers and Jets both won last night to keep pace.
Although the Maple Leafs got the two first goals of the game in the first period, the Isles came back with 3 goals of their own from Brad Boyes, Matt Moulson and John Tavares. This all came after Matt Carkner and Matt Martin seemed to fire the team up by getting into consecutive fights. Yes, folks, regardless of the opinions of some about the game of hockey, dropping the mitts does serve a purpose, especially when it inspires emotion and gives your team a spark.
Tavares would add his second goal of the game in the second period and then Frans Nielsen would make it 5-2 in the third period before the Leafs would get one back in the closing minute of the game while on a 6 on 3 power play.
The Islanders dominated the play most of the way through and badly out shot Toronto as well. In fact, I believe it was a 19 to 5 shot differential in the first period. Without a doubt, it was a solid road win and put the Isles at 51 points in the standings to hold 7th place in the conference.The Leafs had been playing well of late and the Isles also managed to score 5 goals on James Reimer, who had been hot himself. The Islanders now have not lost a game in regulation time in the month of April and continue to be among the hottest teams in the NHL.
The final road trip moves on to Winnipeg on Saturday for yet another “big game”. With the Jets winning last night, it will not be a case of being able to lock up a playoff spot for the Islanders, but it would certainly help. Every 2 points in the standings brings the boys closer to the promise land. By beating the Jets, it also puts a team chasing them further behind them.
As for my “blind observations”, I only have a few from the game:
• The top line was responsible for 4 of the 5 goals. It was great to see them step up when the team needed them. I also am enjoying the talk of JT as MVP material.
• See my above comment about fighting. I give Martin and Carkner credit for doing what had to be done. The team and Jack Capuano acknowledged this fact after the game.
• Why does it always have to be, Dion Phaneuf who manages to score against the Islanders. I can honestly say that over the years of following the game of hockey, despite the Islander/Ranger rivalry, there are very few players in the league who I will say that I “dislike”. Dion Phaneuf is one of them. He is a gutless coward who will cheap shot opposing players, but who will not be a man and stand up for his actions. I have no respect for guys who play the game like that.
• It was only a month ago when many of us were wondering if the Islanders would even have a sniff at the final playoff spot by this point in the season. What an amazing turn around for this team.
• The officiating in the NHL still leaves a lot to be desired at times. I know the job as referee is not an easy one and I do not expect perfection in the least. However, before I climb on my soap box again, let’s just leave it at the comment that if the Islanders finish strong in the last 4 and make the playoffs, it will be despite some crappy and disgraceful efforts from the zebra stripes.
On to Winnipeg. Just four more games to go. What a spring this is turning out to be! Keep it going, boys!
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