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If at First You Don't Succeed -- A Tough OT Loss for the Isles

By Stan Fischler
January 24, 2012

Having lost to the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Monday night, the Islanders got a rare opportunity to get even within 24 hours at home-sweet-home.

This rare double-dip also presented Jack Capuano’s skaters with an opportunity to move closer to the coveted .500 mark.

However, this sterling silver chance went up in smoke rings thanks to a 4-3 overtime loss.

Even more galling was the fact that the home club had stormed back to tie the game with a dozen seconds remaining in the third period. PA Parenteau set the Coliseum in a state of ecstasy and in it appeared that the Isles would put it away in the extra session.

It didn’t happen and now Cappy’s club has until next Tuesday to get back on the winning track when they visit the Hurricanes in Raleigh following the All-Star break.

Although Evgeni Nabokov had played solid goal for New York in the previous few games, Capuano elected to start Al Montoya who had not played a regular game since Dec. 20.

“Considering how long he had been out,” said Capuano, “Al played a good game for us.”

Good enough to nurse a shutout until late in the second period when Toronto finally put one on the board.

By that time both John Tavares and Josh Bailey had staked New York to what looked like a solid cushion.

For the Isles the trick was to free crack scorer Tavares from the Leafs' shackles that ended his twelve-game scoring streak at Air Canada Centre.

Less than two minutes into the first period, an un-shackled Tavares scored his 20th goal of the season. Linemate Kyle Okposo -- stationed in the left corner -- skimmed the rubber to Tavares. The Isles sharpshooter wasted no time beating goalie Jonas Gustavsson five-hole.

“Kyle fought hard in the corner for the puck,” said Tavares, “luckily I was in the right place at the right time.”

The good news for home consumption was that the Isles dominated the territorial play as well as shots on goal, 8-4. 

Less-than-happy news was that the Isles only had a one-goal lead to show for it.

They extended it to 2-0 on a brilliantly executed 2-on-1 shorthanded play, ignited by Matt Martin, who sped down the right boards. Meanwhile, Bailey kept pace down the middle, taking an accurate feed from Martin. His shot beat Gustavsson sending the crowd in an uproar.

But all it took was a defensive breakdown with only 65 seconds remaining in the middle period to put the lead in jeopardy. Defenseman Dylan Reese mishandled the puck enabling the Leafs to gain control. Clarke MacArthur capitalized by beating Montoya, setting up a heart-throbbing third period.

“These two games with Toronto have been playoff like games,” explained Martin, “both clubs realize the importance of each game from here on.”

It took less than two minutes for the Leafs to tie the count at two. Defenseman Jake Gardiner fired a wrist shot from the top of the blue line past a screened Montoya, who was knocked to the ice by MacArthur after Milan Jurcina cross-checked the Leafs' forward into the Isles netminder.

Grabovksi sped down the right boards two-on-one before firing a wrist shot that deflected off Jurcina’s stick. The puck took a Texas leaguer flight and sailed over Montoya’s right shoulder before the Isles goalie could find the rubber.

It looked like the game-winning goal but the Isles stayed with it and with Montoya pulled for an extra skater, they finally got a break.

The play began when defenseman Mike Komisarek’s clearing attempt from behind the net deflected off Gardiner’s skate and right to an open Parenteau who blasted a shot over Gustavsson’s glove.

Once the extra session began, the Islanders kept good control of the puck and delivered at least three good potential goal shots at the Toronto net but couldn’t cash in on any.

On a Maple Leaf counterattack, the score was settled and it began when Grabovski skated down the right boards two-on-one with MacArthur, the latter’s shot was gloved by a diving Montoya trying to cover the left side.

But in trying to make the save the Isles' netminder’s glove went over the goal line and after video review; the Leafs were awarded the goal.

“It’s disappointing,” concluded Tavares. “We worked hard and outshot the Leafs but we didn’t get the bounces like they did.”

More disappointing to the Islanders was the fact that for the second straight night, they were not awarded a single power play opportunity. And this despite the fact that there were at least three outstanding high-sticking infractions against the Isles that went uncalled.

In his postgame, post-mortem, Capuano along with Bailey, Parenteau and Tavares expressed their frustration with the officiating.

“But,” concluded Parenteau, “we now have to move on.”

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