Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mikko's 1st NHL Shoot Out Win

I never expected it. Actually, I was worried about the game the entire day. But remarkably, as Jack Capuano said in his post game, this team rose to the occasion and managed to regroup after Tuesday's loss at the Coliseum.

Mikko was far better prepared, as was the rest of the team, and it showed. Koskinen, who hasn't had the best season in Bridgeport at only 5 - 15 actually has had success in the shoot out there. Had I known that, maybe I would still have nails.

The Islanders let up the first goal again tonight, but it didn't come until 14:10 of the first by Max Pacioretty from the Right circle. At 16:35 of the first, John Tavares lifted the puck over Auld's shoulder to tie the game. It was his 19th goal of the season, and it was unassisted. It was -- beautiful. The odd thing was there were seven penalties in the first period. It seemed as if they were calling just about everything.

It wasn't long after the second period began that the Habs were once again leading the score on a goal by Benoit Pouliot. They stayed in the lead until almost the end of the second period.

Michael Grabner is now tied with JT and Matt Moulson at 19 goals. He scored twice during this game and could have scored a third goal had his first break away attempt not been stopped by Auld. Along with Grabner's blinding speed is his ability to not give up on the play. Grabner's goals tied the Habs in the second period and again early in the third. He was looking for the hat trick but couldn't find it. He had a team high six shots on net. Grabner played on the power play, he played on the penalty kill and he played five on five. According to Jack Capuano, he's exceptionally versatile and sees the game better than most. On Tuesday he also joked that Grabs could probably play goal.

But there were many stand-outs tonight. Jack Hillen again had an excellent game as did Andy MacDonald who seemed to play possessed for a second under 28 minutes. The Islander defense played for Mikko and they played for each other. This is the team Jack Capuano wanted to see.

Koskinen went four for four on the Habs shooters, but so did Auld. It wasn't until Kyle Okposo skated out and brought the game to an end with two points in the Isles pocket.

In the post game, Mikko was quick to praise Okposo. "It was awesome to see that Kyle buried that one." He seemed to still be a little shell-shocked. "I haven't won for a while. It was a great feeling. One of the best of my life. It was unbelievable."

Playing in just his second NHL game, Mikko said he really wasn't nervous before the shoot out. "I know I'm pretty good at the shoot out and they didn't know me. They didn't know how to beat me. It was really fun. I had a lot of fun there."

But a true team player, he made sure to let everyone know "The guys played unbelievable in front of me. Made my job easier tonight." Unlike Tuesday when as Matt Moulson said, Mikko really didn't get much support.

The man who scored the game winner in the shoot out spent a good amount of time in front of the cameras during the post game. Kyle Okposo was his reserved self, but every now and then he would flash that amazing smile of his and the dimples in his cheeks would make their appearance.

"He played unbelievable for us tonight. He made some huge saves and kept us in the game with a couple of them." Now skating with Frans Nielsen, Okposo said he is beginning to find some chemistry after being out of the line up for so long after his shoulder surgery."

Now, I couldn't see the reporter who asked Kyle a question about the mentality of the team. I also couldn't hear the entire question, but I did enjoy Kyle's answer.
"People under estimate us a little bit. We've been playing well since the break and we're getting better every game and we want to continue. Our team played well and we battled for him (Mikko)and for each other."

I take it that was his way of telling everyone the Islander team should not be taken lightly. They may not be going anywhere in the post season this year, but they sure as hell shouldn't be looked at as an easy mark. Not even with an inexperienced goaltender having to protect the net.

After watching Koskinen's performance tonight, I had to figure that Garth Snow was proud of his efforts. He was. Very.

No time to rest and enjoy the two points, the Islanders face the Penguins tomorrow night in what may end up being a grudge match. Hopefully, no one will be looking for a fight.... yeah... right.

1 comment:

Mark Meld said...

One of the best games of the year, for me anyway. I am soooo proud of the Islanders. Wiped the smiles off the face of the Pens; the payback was sweet.