The Islanders got on the scoreboard and in the win column today -- barely on the latter count. Some notes from today's matinee win at the Coliseum:
-- Andrew MacDonald's one-timer for a PPG and Mark Streit's beautifully patient, accurate shot/pass for Frans Nielsen's goal are pretty strong reminders of what Streit and MacDonald do for this defense.
The entire corps was far better than on Saturday, but Streit and MacDonald turned their games around so clearly that it carried the rest of the group. Mark Eaton and Mike Mottau had their struggles, but Eaton had a couple great stick sweeps in front of his own net and Mottau moved the puck better.
Both are vulnerable to physical forwards, and the Wild has a bunch of those. The Isles could use a game or two of Milan Jurcina in on that third pair to give Eaton and/or Mottau a rest.
Easy to mention Travis Hamonic here as well, but the youngest guy on the blue line plays strong and tough every night, it seems.
-- This was a game for the new, older guys. Steve Staios played 18:01 and blocked a couple shots; he also is a better skater up the ice than you would have thought for a 38-year-old guy with a long history of stay-at-home play.
And a big, big effort from Jay Pandolfo, who blocked point shots, won a huge faceoff to start the 44-second, 5-on-3 kill in the second and played the smart game the Islanders need him to. Marty Reasoner won some faceoffs early in the game to help kill the first-period Wild PPs, though his tired hook while down a man in the second was a bad moment.
-- Jack Capuano doesn't tip his hand too much -- or ever, really -- and he said his decision to start Al Montoya again was not directed at either of the two other goaltenders, simply a move to best give his team a chance to win. Montoya was the reason the Isles ultimately won today, coming up big on the seven Wild power plays and staying steady as the ice tilted to his end for the last 35 minutes of the game.
The next game is Thursday against the Lightning. Does Capuano stick with his gut? I can't see why not. Montoya is the lead guy out of the pack in net and he hasn't done anything to force a change.
-- John Tavares was around the puck an awful lot, but with nothing to show for it -- not even with a partial breakaway in the third that was snuffed out by Dany Heatley, who rather effortlessly lifted Tavares' stick from behind. Not a play you want your top player to get burned on.
Tavares also got too fancy with the puck entering the Wild zone early in the third, cycling back to try and make a play rather than dump it around the boards, and the resutling rush finished with Matt Cullen's goal for the Wild. Tavares only played 14:28, one of his lowest game totals in his 163 games, mostly due to all the PK time, but perhaps some due to a "trying too hard" kind of night.
-- Blake Comeau had five hits, which is along the lines of what Capuano wants from Comeau. One of them was an unnecessary shove on Cullen to give the Wild another power play; less of what Capuano wants. The Brian Rolston-Josh Bailey-Comeau line hasn't achieved much so far, but, to be fair, the Islanders as a group have achieved about 38 minutes of solid, two-way hockey in two games.