After having a solid game in the season opener, the New York Islanders showed a little less jump late in the game last night. The Columbus Blue Jackets were the opponent, and this was the first time the Islanders and Jackets had played at Nassau Coliseum in a few years. Right from the opening faceoff, the crowd at the Coliseum had a playoff type feel to it. The Islanders had their legs going at the start of the game, with John Tavares and Matt Moulson getting a few good scoring chances. The Islanders got the first two goals of the game as well — first, a powerplay goal from Lubomir Visnovsky, then an even strength goal from Moulson. Through the first two periods, the Islanders seemed to be in firm control of the game.
Both Tavares and Moulson had good nights in the game. Tavares had two assists; the first one on Visnovsky’s goal was his 250th career point, which moved him into sole possession of 23rd place on the Islanders’ all-time scoring list. As for Moulson, he scored his first goal of the season and was the only Islander to find the back of the net in the shootout. That line of Tavares, Moulson and Kyle Okposo had been quiet in the season opener. Once the home opener got started, that line was the Islanders’ best line. The team had looked good through the first two periods of the game.
Once the third period started, things began to unravel just a little bit for the Islanders. Mark Letestu got the Blue Jackets on the board with a powerplay goal at the 7:43 mark of the third period, to cut the Islanders’ lead to one. Four minutes later, RJ Umberger got the Jackets even, cleaning up a rebound in front to tie the game. From that point on, it seemed like Islander goalie Evgeni Nabokov had to stand on his head to keep the Islanders in the game and force overtime. “We were too cautious,” Nabokov said. “They got the momentum after they scored that power play goal. They kept coming and got a little bit lucky.”
Sure, the Blue Jackets won the game in a shootout, and sure, the Islanders got the point, but it was a sloppy way to get the point. The Islanders seemed to take the foot off the gas pedal in the third period, allowing the Jackets back into the game to get that second point. Nabokov had to play big late in the game and in overtime just to get the game to the shootout. If the Islanders are going to be a success, they can’t really be too cautious late in hockey games. They have got to show consistent efforts for an entire 60 minutes.
I know it’s only the second game of the season, so there is no reason whatsoever to hit the panic button with this hockey team. It’s a long 82 game season, and there will be some nights like this where this will happen; it happens to every hockey team. From my perspective, I would rather have the Islanders have nights like this early in the season rather than later, when a possible playoff spot is on the line.
Still, there is one big, positive to take out of the first two games of the season. It’s very encouraging to see that the Islanders get three out of a possible four points. Would it have been nice to see them get the full four points? Sure. Am I upset that they got three? Nope. I’m actually quite pleased. Sure, the effort was a bit sloppy at the end of the game last night, but I’ll take the three points to start the season off.
What do you think?