Friday, October 22, 2010

Overtime Win for the Isles In Tampa

“It’s not enough to be competitive; they have to find a way to win.” Butch Goring was echoing what Scott Gordon has been saying all along. Good teams find a way to win -- no matter what.

The Islanders did just that last night in Tampa Bay. Michael Grabner and his impressive speed set the tone at only 2:15 of the first giving Nino Niederreiter his first assist point and giving Doug Weight his fifth on Grabner’s second goal of the season. (I think Doug has more points in only seven games than he had all last season.)

Sixteen minutes later, Sean Bergenheim tied the score at one with an in-your-face goal that I knew was coming. Bergenheim was jubilant. The Islanders had to keep working.

DiPietro made key saves, especially on Simon Gagne, but at 4:44 of the second Marty St. Louis managed to score for the Bolts with the help of Stamkos, the much talked about youngster. (Okay, that was another one I knew would be coming since MSL loves to score on DiPietro)

But 28 shots out of 30 didn’t get passed Rick DiPietro. Even Sean’s short handed attempt to repeat the same move that put one passed Rick didn’t work the second time, He came in on Rick all alone, but this time Rick was ready. It was one of Rick’s best saves of the night.

With Stamkos in the box for cross-checking, it was PA Parenteau that scored on Dan Ellis at 10 minutes into the third to tie the score at two while the Isles were on a 14 second two man advantage. It almost didn’t happen as James Wisniewski fanned a little on his pass to Parenteau, but he managed to find the back of the net giving the Wiz his fifth assist point and another assist point for John Tavares. They went to review the goal because it came out of the net so fast, they weren’t too sure it actually went in. It did.

Blake Comeau was slow to get up after being taken down by Kubina. Sliding across the crease with no control, Comeau’s knee slammed against the post of Ellis' net as it dislodged. He was helped off the ice and went straight to the locker room and the Isles went on the PP with 7.2 seconds to go in the third.

Just as the tripping penalty to Kubina had expired, Matt Moulson was banging away at the puck in traffic in Ellis’ crease. The Islanders were relentless and then there was confusion. Was there a goal? Was the game over? It took over five minutes for Toronto to come back with the answer after having to go through numerous camera angles.

On the bench, Scott Gordon already knew the answer. His own video coordinator had alerted him it had indeed crossed the goal line completely. But there was no celebration until final word came from Toronto. The word was “Goal.”

In the post game report with Rob Carlin, Scott Gordon gently called out his team for not playing particularly well in the third period, but the Islanders and Rick DiPietro did manage to not only come away with one point as the game ended in a tie, but also stole that coveted second point with the OT win .

Special teams were the difference -- as usual. The penalty killers were put to the test when they had to kill off a five on three penalty as both Sim and Gillies sat in the box after a little push and shove incident at 13:38 of the second. A good team can do that. A good team did.

The Isles blocked 17 shots to the Lightning’s 5. But that ratio may be one of the factors that caused then to lose Andy MacDonald with a hand injury in the second period. He did not return for the third.

Gordon has been working on the special teams which seem to be the answer to their recent success. They’ve also been strong in the third period with that new “don’t give up” attitude they’ve managed to develop.

I remember hearing Gordon bark that order at practices at Iceworks. “Don’t give up on the play! Don’t give up on the play!” Maybe it’s starting to sink in.

In the on ice celebration, they picked Rick up like he was a rag doll, goalie gear and all. This meant a lot to them as a team, but so much more to Rick with his father in attendance for the annual Father’s trip.

Earlier in the day I had said I was looking for a win to take the bitter taste of that playoff loss in 2004 away. While this wasn’t a playoff game, it was another game continuing to prove the comeback of Rick DiPietro is not a dream. It is a reality coming into focus.

The points in October are huge. I’ve heard it said that every point lost in October is worth three in March. So while the Islanders may not have played a very good game (according to their coach), they did find a way to win. “This is a close team with good chemistry.”

Yes it is. And with that being their first win in Tampa Bay since 2008, I think the boys and their Dads can celebrate a little today before they have to get back to work and face the Panthers on Saturday.

Side Note: The MSG cameras caught GM Garth Snow watching the game flanked by Jack Hillen and Bruno Gervais and a seated Josh Bailey. Considering that Bruno hasn’t seen the ice except in practice, I wonder how the conversation was going last night in that suite when they saw A-Mac go down with a hand injury.

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