November 18, 2011

Unseen stars shine in Isles 4-3 victory over Montreal

Night in and night out the New York Islanders (5-8-3) had stars sacrificing their bodies, blocking shots, while playing unselfish hockey. In the Isles 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens (8-8-3), those players, as well as the rest of the team were rewarded with two points.

“I thought tonight those were the guys who deserve the credit,” said head coach Jack Capuanoof the unseen stars stepping-up in the game. “Guys like Matt Martin played a strong game, along with Jay Pandolfo, Marty Reasoner …it weren’t the top performers that we were used too, it was a total team effort and great to see those guys step-up tonight.”

Also helping the Isles was having a drive, fire and determination to win, New York finished the night outshooting Montreal by a total of 33-29, along with blocking 24 of the Canadiens shots that came their way.

The Isles had their scary moments, including costly turnovers late in the game, but the team continued to grind through to snap a four game losing streak. One of the scariest moments came with 12:05 on the scoreboard when keeper Evgeni Nabokov was run into for the second game.

Nabby, who was banged up after Round Two against the New York Rangers on Tuesday, this time could not continue the game-immediately went into the locker room for treatment.  It was announced that the cager is day-to-day with an injured groin, and will be re-evaluated by physicians on Friday.

Quickly grabbing his gear and getting into the game was Rick DiPietro, who made 24 impressive saves in 51:43 of ice time in the net for the Islanders.  Backing their keeper up on both ends of the ice, the team got on the scoreboard at the 0:41 mark.

P.A. Parenteau (3) set the scoring tone early for the Isles, as the forward put on a beauty of a move for a backhanded goal and an early 1-0 lead. Jay Pandolfo doubled the tally with 3:01 on the scoreboard on a tip-in shot, which was assisted by Josh Bailey (2) and Matt Martin (1).

For Pandolfo the goal was a special one, as it was not only his first with the Islanders, but also his 100th career goal in the NHL.  The forward has been one of the many unseen stars who have been quietly contributing to the team.

“That was big for us tonight to find a way to win,” said Pandolfo. The forward had this to say on the goal, “Matt Martin made a good play in the defensive zone, and we had the 3-on-2. Matty slid it over to me and we were driving to the net and that is what made that goal possible.”

Jay had this to say of scoring his first goal with the team, “It feels good; it feels good to get a win as well. We have been struggling to get those two points lately; this was a big game for our team. Now we have to build off of this, and start finding ways to win games.”

Isles captain Mark Streit (2) gave his team a three goal lead at the 9:08 mark, which was assisted by Martin (2).  Montreal spoilt the shutout bid by DiPietro at the 14:52 mark when Max Pacioretty (9) recorded a 28 foot snap shot.

The Habs made things interesting, when they cut the lead at 17:38, when Erik Cole (5) put in an 11 foot wrister, cutting the Isles lead to one goal.  Matt Moulson (6) helped the Isles regain that lead, as well as momentum putting in a 12 foot wrister for the fourth Islanders goal.

“That fourth goal was big for us,” said Streit of the fourth goal of the game. “They scored two and made it close, we struggled there for a bit in our own end, and to be able to get that fourth goal is always huge for us.”

Before the Isles could skate away with two points though, it was during this point that turnovers and penalties allowed the Canadiens to cash in on a power play goal. Montreal captain Brian Gionta tallied a 12 foot wrister at the 15:42 mark of the third period, making the New York lead 4-3.

The Habs continued with a barrage of shots, which were all blocked or stopped by DiPietro, with the horn sounding on two vital points for the Islanders.

“I think it is a step in the right direction,” DiPietro said after the game. “I wouldn’t say this is the end-all, there is still a lot of work to be done. At the end of the day, this team isn’t going to settle for mediocrity. We’re not going to be happy winning one game, and then losing a couple.”

Now the challenge for this team is to keep the positive momentum going, and the test will be a tough one-as the Isles will face the reigning Stanley Cup Champions the Boston Bruins on Saturday.  The game is scheduled to air on the MSG Plus network, and face-off slated for 7:00 p.m.

Ed Westfall Night:  Prior to the game against the Boston Bruins the New York Islanders will induct their original captain Ed Westfall into the franchise’s Hall of Fame. The Isles will have a video tribute to Westfall’s career, while also dedicating a plaque and the raising of a Hall of Fame banner to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum’s rafters.

Stacy Podelski

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