December 9, 2011

Isles singing the overtime blues in 3-2 loss to Blackhawks

The New York Islanders (9-12-6) showed resiliency and heart, but are still singing the overtime blues in their 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Thursday night hockey action.  New York was bolstered by two goals by in the second and third periods to propel them to a well-earned point in the game.

“We battled back from a period we weren’t very happy with,” said blueliner Steve Staios after the game. Staios was vital to the Isles comeback effort, setting up the game-tying goal in the third period. “We have to get back to playing that 60 minute game that has been successful for us in the past few games.”

This marks the second time that the Blackhawks were able to gain a victory over the Isles in an overtime frame, as New York has still yet to gain the extra point in the extra period. The Isles fought throughout the night though, using goals by Travis Hamonic (1) and Michael Grabner (8) to make the 10,711 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum come to life.

“It was kind of a strange game, there were a lot of momentum shifts,” Hamonic said of the loss. “I think at some points we played well, and at others we didn’t play as well as we had in the past couple of weeks.”

The young blueliner continued to say, “By no means are we accepting this loss, but we got to be happy we got a point from a very good team (in Chicago).

New York has now been able to pick up 10 points in their last six games (4-0-2) thanks to improved play since the end of November. The night started off well for the Isles, who were creating a ton of chances on turnovers, and causing the Blackhawks to take an early penalty at the 9:10 mark of the first period.

Chicago grabbed the momentum on their first power play opportunity, when at the 11:42 mark Marian Hossa scored his 400th career goal. The Blackhawks sniper was able to tap in a loose puck that was hanging around the Islanders cage to open up the scoring.

Patrick Sharp (14) doubled the lead at the 2:23 mark of the third period, ripping a one-timer past Isles keeper Al Montoya’s blocker side. Montoya (25 saves) though held the Hawks at 2-0, as the Islanders blueline started the comeback effort with a big goal.

That big goal was in fact a big blast from Hamonic at the 18:21 mark as the Isles defenseman was able to blast from the post cut the Chicago lead to 2-1 before the end of the period. Staios then had his booming shot tipped in by Michael Grabner at the 10:52 mark of the third period.

“It always feels good to get a goal, it just would have much sweeter if we got the overtime victory,” Hamonic said of his goal in the game. “For myself personally I try to chip-in offensively, maybe this season I haven’t done as much as I have in the past, but I am hoping that now that the first one has gone in there will be more goals to come.”

Things started to get physical between the Blackhawks and the Islanders, as these two teams needed the overtime frame for the second meeting to decide the winner. Chicago skated away with the two points when Captain Sharp recorded the game-winner at the 1:34 mark of the overtime frame.

New York had chances during the course of the night to earn the two points against, what was a very good Blackhawks teams. The Islanders had a 5-on-3 power play which lasted 1:56, but every shot the team had either went wide or hit Chicago keeper Ray Emery (31 saves).

“Chicago has a good team,” Al Montoya said after the game. “We are starting to show that we can hang in there with the best in the NHL, we have been raising our game every single time. Tonight we saw where we were at and it was a good building block.”

The Isles will conclude this most recent homestand with a Saturday showdown with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The game between New York and Pittsburgh is slated to air on the MSG Plus network, with the face-off scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

Stacy Podelski

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