Hamonic, Islanders Dominate Third Period

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Leddy goal

The New York Islanders’ last game left fans feeling optimistic about the offensive effort shown from all 18 skaters. The Islanders mercilessly outshot the Vancouver Canucks; 48-26, but lost 2-1 in the shootout. At the end of that game, the loser point the Islanders received put them ahead of the New York Rangers.

Unfortunately for the Islanders, their cross-town rival beat the Canucks in overtime earlier this week, to leapfrog the Islanders in the standings. The Isles are still a point behind the Rangers, but their 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators kept them nipping at the Rangers heels.

The Islanders received good news prior to the game with star defenseman Travis Hamonic fully healed from his injury, and inserted back into the lineup, adding some more bite to the backend.

It took just less than three minutes, at the 2:52 mark, for knuckles to fly between two heavyweights. Matt Martin and Mark Borowiecki dropped their gloves to spark some excitement for their respective clubs. It was an equal bout between the two combatants.

Martin fight

It appeared to immediately favor the Islanders because 38 seconds later, the Islanders went to the man-advantage as Erik Karlsson was sent to the box for holding a speedy John Tavares who was galloping into the offensive zone.

The Islanders won the offensive zone draw and set up their power play in the Senators’ end. It took 19 ticks into the power play before Nick Leddy beat Andrew Hammond with help from Anders Lee with a screen out in front of Hammond. The goal not only Leddy’s third of the season, but his third of the calendar year more specifically.

Right before the first media timeout, Matt Puempel drove toward the front of the net to generate a scoring opportunity. As he crept in closer toward the goalmouth, he ran into Islanders’ netminder, Halak, and received a two-minute penalty for goalie interference.

The Islanders stayed in the Senators’ end for most of the second power play, but fortunately for Ottawa, they were able to keep the puck out of the net with two imperative clears that went the length of the ice back into the Islanders’ end where they were forced to chase and eat up more clock.

In a rare lopsided start to the period, the fortuitous Islanders went to their third power play in less than 11 minutes of play. This time, the Islanders threw three shots toward Hammond, but he was up the challenge and kept it to a one-goal game.

The duration of the period was more tactical on both ends, as both defenses kept the opposition to the outside and kept their sticks in the center lane. The Islanders outshot the Senators 10-8 in the period, while the Senators outhit the Islanders; 17-8.

The second period started oppositely from the first. Matt Martin tripped up Bobby Ryan just three seconds into the period. He was sent to the box for the second time in the game, but the first minor penalty assessed to his team. The Islanders’ penalty killing came into the game with the second best percentage in the league at 87.7% efficiency.

As the penalty expired, Bobby Ryan tied the game up courtesy of a screen provided by Stone. After the goal was scored, Halak turned to the referees to see if he could buy another goalie interference call against the Senators, but it didn’t work.

Halak continued to fight off a lot of pucks, but couldn’t stop a quick Karlsson wrist shot at 10:51 mark of the second period.

The Senators’ lead didn’t last long, though. As coach Capuano typically does, after a goal against the Islanders, he throws his fourth line out to try and give the Islanders some momentum back.

Cizikas won the center-ice face off and speedily gained the offensive line. The puck was thrown on net and Cal Clutterbuck cleaned up the garbage to tie the game up just 17 seconds after Karlsson’s tally.

The Senators continued to revert back to bad percentage shots, but Halak was able to cut off the angles and keep the puck away from his crease.

The second period ended with four total goals, split evenly. The majority of play was dominated by the Senators, indicated by outshooting the Islanders in the middle frame; 18-10.

Halak entered the game with a 2.11 GAA. His third period needed to be flawless to keep that average as low of a number as possible.

Halak received early support as Tavares kicked his game into another gear by running circles in the offensive zone, then feeds an open Hamonic at the point. He scored to put the Islanders up 3-2.

Not even a minute later, Chris Neil committed a lackadaisical penalty by slashing Brock Nelson.

The referees must’ve felt Neil shouldn’t have been in the box, because Nielsen went to the box on what appeared to be a phantom tripping call, 31 seconds into the power play.

Neither team could score on their abbreviated power plays.

The Islanders kept their foot on the gas pedal, specifically John Tavares. Before the halfway mark of the third period, Tavares kept poking away at a loose puck near Hammond’s crease. He finally lifted a backhand shot past Hammond to score just his fourth goal in 20 games.

Kyle Okposo added to the lead by throwing the puck toward the net in the final six minutes of the game to create a scoring chance. The shot ricocheted off of Jared Cowen in front of the net and went into the back of the net, for one of the flukiest goals of the season. That goal would seal the game’s fate, as the Islanders took a commanding three-goal lead late in the third period.

After the Okposo goal, the Islanders played a more conservative style and didn’t allow the Senators to get much cooking offensively, as the Islanders won an important game on the road; 5-2.

The win was just the Islanders’ third road victory in their last seven road games.

FINAL STATS:                     NYI         OTT

Power Plays                       1/4         0/2

Hits                                        25           27

Faceoff Wins                      30           27

Giveaways                          11           10

Takeaways                          4              12

Blocked Shots                    14           22

Penalty Minutes               9              13

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