New York Islanders 4*, Philadelphia Flyers 3 (*SO): Colin McDonald and 3rd-period madness

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On the bright side, the New York Islanders made a two-goal comeback, a third-period surge to take the lead, and claimed two points with a 4*-3 win. On the poor side, the two points came via shootout (which matters in tie-breaking scenarios) after the Isles lost that lead with 30 seconds left during a mad 6-on-4 scramble.

This should have been Colin McDonald's night alone, his two third-period goals making a nice story in a feel-good comeback win.

Instead, the difference came via shootout, where -- get this -- Frans Nielsen hit the post with the Backhand of Judgment and John Tavares was stopped easily, but Brad Boyes and ultimately Josh Bailey made the difference.

With the win, the Islanders pull even with the eighth-place Rangers in points, but that failure to do it in regulation could haunt them. Nonetheless, it was an exhausting game for a fan to watch, with lows early (softies!) and late (penalty!) but plenty of entertainment to keep this night and this season interesting still.

GS | ES | Faceoffs | PBP | TOI (Flyers) | TOI (Isles) | H2H | Shift Chart | Recaps: nhl.com | Isles |

You could call the Flyers' two first-period goals examples of "captain Claude Giroux stepping up" and all sorts of hogwash (which the Flyers broadcast did), but it's not really the case. He earned his assists on both goals, of course, but some better goaltending would have prevented them.

On the first, Scott Hartnell's one-timer shot went half speed and knuckled under Evgeni Nabokov's glove. On the second, Thomas Hickey erred mightily by coughing the puck up in the middle of the neutral zone, but Nabby went for a desperate swan-dive that old man Mike Knuble easily eluded to finish the 2-on-1.

Those would sting, but to be fair to Nabokov, he came up big on a few later moments to make the comeback, and ultimately the win, possible. For those of us who judge his play harshly, it's not that he can't be good -- it's that he can't be good consistently enough anymore. This bubble team kind of needs that.

Second Period: Lucky to Get One Back

So the Isles played well in the first period but suffered some tough luck and entered the first intermission down 2-0. How did they respond in the second? By giving up nine of the first 10 shots. Their one shot to that point was a dangerous one, by Kyle Okposo on a 3-on-2, but Ilya Bryzgalov had the short side covered.

In response, Jack Capuano appeared to initiate the much-threatened line shuffle, creating a mid-second-period mix that featured some disorienting moments of Moulson with Okposo and Nielsen and Tavares with Cizikas and Aucoin (after a very abbreviated Boulton and Martin shift with Cizikas). Yes, amid this shuffling, Boulton still had two brief appearances; the results may have created some energy, but it also created a little chaos with the line changes.

Regardless, they didn't last long, and the Islanders finally found some luck with the Tavares-Moulson-Boyes line reunited. Tavares sent a pass just above the crease with both Boyes and Moulson looking to drive it home. Fortunately, not one but two Flyers' skates did the job for them, resulting in a goal credited to Tavares just a minute before the second intermission.

Then Brayden Schenn gave them an excellent opportunity for an equalizer when he tripped Nabokov as time expired in the second period. The Isles threatened but did not convert, even wasting a brief stretch where Bryzgalov was without his stick.

Third Period: So, So Many Emotions

That one didn't work out, but the Isles got their hand in the game back on the back of McDonald with some help from Keith Aucoin (on a pretty triangle play) and Casey Cizikas (on some solid Casey Bulldog play, plus a fortuitous bounce off old friend Bruno Gervais). Suddenly the Islanders had a lead and had actually mounted a third-period comeback...

...until they faced a 6-on-4 in the final 90 seconds after Frans Nielsen pawed the puck off a faceoff and ran afoul of that new rule this year. A mad scramble ensued around the Islanders net, the Isles thinking it was covered (though really, it was Travis Hamonic trying to cover it in the crease), and the puck ultimately bouncing right to Scott Hartnell's stick for his second goal of the game.

Off to overtime we go, and with a powerplay to boot. The Islanders had play in the Flyers zone for the whole of their OT powerplay, but the PP1 unit (Streit, Visnovsky, Tavares and an alternating Boyes and Moulson) frankly looked to tired to pull off anything sharp. The Isles called a timeout for some bearded Doug Weight instruction, but the post-timeout half of the powerplay was no more productive. The whole two minutes looked exhausting, frankly.

Game Highlights
Notes
  • Eric Boulton dressed, but it was Colin McDonald who fought -- having to answer to Scott Hartnell early in the first period after McDonald went in for a hard check on Kimmo Timonen in the corner.
  • On a few occasions in the first period, the NOB line exerted good sustained pressure, particularly during a shift where they helped hem Flyers like Zac Rinaldo in for a whopping 1:42 shift. Another solid game for that Frans Nielsen-Josh Bailey-Kyle Okposo line, who seem to have found their chemistry again.
  • Ronaldo was victimized later for another long shift which ended in the Tavares goal. He only saw two more shifts in the third, including one in which he rand the length of the ice to hit Okposo coming around the net, except Okposo pulled up, Rinaldo missed and tumbled into the linesman and fell awkwardly. He's fun to watch.
  • The Islanders' second powerplay unit applied some decent pressure late in the first period and as the powerplay expired, eventually putting the puck past Ilya Bryzgalov on a feed from Frans Nielsen to Andrew MacDonald that, sadly, crossed the line a second after the buzzer.
  • Braydon Coburn left the game midway through the second with an injury, leaving the Flyers defense even weaker still.
  • I've said this since the Isles signed him, but for some reason Boyes misses the net stunningly in open play but can still really pick holes in the shootout. He did so tonight.
  • John Tavares has 21 goals, two behind league leader Brad Boyes Steven Stamkos. [fire your editor]
  • I'll be honest: I didn't realize Mike Knuble was still around. A fine rude awakening, that.
  • Given all those injuries, and the stakes involved, this really was a game the Isles needed to win. It felt like they could and should through much of it, and thankfully the bounces evened out in their favor before time was up ... except it's never smooth. The scramble that tied the game for the Flyers showed the Hockey God Bounce Pendulum never stops swinging.
  • Thomas Hickey made the glaring error on the Flyers' second goal, but like so many goals against, it was a cascade of errors where teammates, from the forwards to the goaltender, failed to bail one another out. In the grand scheme though, the Isles all bailed each other out just enough. Just enough.
  • Monkey off the back? At long last, on the seventh attempt the Islanders have extended a two-game win streak into their first three-gamer of the season. Thank you, shootout regime.
  • Stars align: The Isles got some bounces, no B.S. from the refs, the right side of a three-point game -- and get this, all other games ended in their favor: Carolina, Winnipeg and the Smurfs lost in regulation; Buffalo, the least of these, lost in a shootout to Florida.
Game Thread Comments of the Night

Boulton is probably the biggest Notre Dame fan right now.

-ArsenalLI

Shots 3-10, score 1-0

Yeah, the defense is what sucks.

-Torgo

BAILEY!!

-pretty much everyone

Next Up: Pittsburgh on Saturday. They're a little bit better than the Flyers right now.