Isles get a point in shootout loss at Chicago
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CHICAGO -- One point is not enough, not when you've already given away too many. But Friday night, the point the Islanders got felt like more than just a shootout loser's consolation.
After a dismal second period, the Islanders rallied twice to tie the Western Conference-leading Blackhawks in the third, pumping 23 shots on goal and dominating play for much of the final 20 minutes of regulation.
It was, ultimately, a 5-4 loss thanks to a 1-0 shootout deficit. But after a season's start that included an 0-10-0 record when trailing after two periods, this was a positive.
"We showed a lot of character tonight," said P.A. Parenteau, who wired a power-play wrist shot past Corey Crawford 36 seconds into the third to tie the score at 3. "We came back twice on a team that's a good team, a deep team, one that plays well at home. It's a shootout loss, but I think it's a great team effort."
Patrick Sharp answered with a power-play goal for the Hawks at 5:08 of the third, but the Isles redoubled their aggressiveness instead of wilting. And with a bit of luck, as All-Star defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook collided after a change, rookie Nino Niederreiter snapped a wrist shot by Crawford at 8:55 to tie it at 4.
"It raised us," said Al Montoya, who made 32 saves in his first NHL start in his hometown, including a splayed-out pad stop on Sharp with 32 seconds left in regulation to preserve the point. "You see Nino put his head down and snap one off . . . Awesome."
Niederreiter had a tough night to that point, a split-second off the play on two Hawks goals. Milan Jurcina had an even tougher go. He was on for those two goals, then made a lazy attempt to corral a high dump-in that Jonathan Toews whacked off Jurcina's stick and past Montoya with 1:19 left in the second.
That shorthanded goal capped a dominating second period for the Hawks, who outshot the Islanders 15-2 and erased a 2-1 deficit after one.
The Islanders already have had road periods like that, and they always led to even more demoralizing third periods. That didn't happen this time. "It's a completely different attitude in here," said Matt Moulson, who scored for a third straight game at 14:27 of the first to give the Isles a 2-1 lead. "There's no letdown, there's no feeling sorry for ourselves. We came in after the second and we said, 'We're going to win this game.' "
That seemed unlikely even from the start, with Andrew MacDonald (leg bruise) and his 23 minutes a night sidelined. But Dylan Reese played a smart, aggressive game in his season debut, jumping up in the play judiciously, and Mike Mottau was strong at both ends, including stopping a shot from Toews in the crease in the second to keep the score tied at 2.
Jurcina blocked five shots despite his minus-3 night -- he also took the penalty that led to Sharp's goal -- and the makeshift defense held up well enough.
"We showed some resolve," Jack Capuano said. "I thought we played one of our better games this year."
It was only one point, which isn't enough. But it's progress.
Notes & quotes: After shelling out a moderate-sized mortgage payment to get 35 friends and family into the United Center for his first NHL game in Chicago, native son Montoya was relieved it was over. "Emotionally, that's the hardest thing I've ever had to do in hockey," he said after making 32 saves. "It was also the neatest thing ever. But I'm glad it's over with."