Zeitgeist: Islanders Blow Lead, Lose Heartbreaking Oscar Pool

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OYSTER BAY, N.Y. (IFP) _ The New York Islanders lost a heartbreaking Academy Awards pool on Sunday, squandering a dominating early category performance and finishing with their seventh Oscar night loss at home.

The Islanders started strong, correctly predicting the first six award winners and confidently controlling the pool. Matt Moulson opened the show by scoring on Django Unchained's Christoph Waltz in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role category. Moulson avoided heavy favorites Robert DeNiro in Silver Linings Playbook and Alan Arkin in Argo, circled around darkhorse Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln and confidently picked Waltz with a quick Sharpie marker.

Less than six minutes later, John Tavares continued his recent strong play by netting two winners from the world of animation, coming out ahead in the Best Animated Short Film and Best Animated Feature Film of the Year categories. On a transition play with Brad Boyes, Tavares picked Paperman in the first slot and wasted no time in selecting Disney-Pixar's Brave over an aggressively playing Wreck-It Ralph in the other.

New York continued to control the pool throughout its first third, going with Life of Pi in both the Achievement in Cinematography and Achievement in Visual Effects slots. They finished the period with a strong shift that ended by picking Anna Karenina in the Achievement in Costume Design category.

"We started great, we felt good and confident," said defenseman Travis Hamonic, who pushed for the latest version of Tolstoy's epic love story over other worthy contenders Snow White and the Huntsman and Les Miserables. "We had all the momentum, even to start the middle categories. But we lost focus and let the Oscar pool get away from us."

The Islanders started the second period where they left off from the opening, winning the majority of the battles between the Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling and Achievement in Sound Mixing categories. But an unfortunate and somewhat controversial miss in Achievement in Sound Editing started a slide they would never fully recover from.

The award went to two films - Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty. But the Islanders had incorrectly selected Life of Pi and were penalized. Their first miss of the evening took the Islanders' heads out of the pool and they finished the second section tied at 8 wins and 8 losses.

"I didn't agree with the call there at all," said head coach Jack Capuano of the rare Oscar tie. "The Academy has a tough job, but when two movies win an award, I think you gotta swallow the rules a little bit, look the other way at that category and let the rest of the pool play out.

"You hate to see the judges take an Oscar pool away from the players like that."

Starting the final period on their heels, the Islanders never controlled the pool at any point, getting the odd pick right but losing most of the highest-profile one-on-one categories.

By the time Jennifer Lawrence was awarded the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for Silver Linings Playbook instead of the Islanders pick of Quvenzhane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild, a comeback or overtime looked out of reach.

"We really felt that little girl had it at the end there," said Tavares, who took responsibility for the Islanders' final incorrect prediction. "But there are no excuses. We had the pool won and let it slip away from us."

Rookie goaltender Kevin Poulin, recently recalled from Bridgeport and participating in his first NHL Oscar Pool, made correct picks in the Achievement in Production Design and Best Documentary Short Subject categories.

NOTES: Winger David Ullstrom was a healthy scratch from the pool, having not seen a single nominated film. ... Capuano said Oscar host Seth McFarlane looked comfortable and made some good plays but also "seemed kind of like a smug douchebag out there." ... Capuano also gave a curt "no comment" when asked about actress Anne Hathaway's Prada gown. ... Attendance at the team's Oscar party was 24, with assistant coach Brent Thompson choosing to watch The Walking Dead instead.

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This is a parody. Wolverine got robbed.

Slightly more direct coverage of Sunday night's Islanders game can be found here. Though why relive it?