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by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
Before Jakub Voracek sealed the 4-3 win for the Blue Jackets off of a rebound just 2:31 into the overtime period, Frans Nielsen, Michael Grabner, John Tavares and Travis Hamonic all had opportunities to score the game winning goal while 4-on-4.

“Our chances are there, I think it is coming,” said Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano. “I think they understand what we have to do, we’re depleted and I’m just proud of the guys who have stepped up their game.”

The most notable opportunity in the overtime period was delivered by Hamonic, who made his NHL debut after playing in 19 games for Bridgeport this season. While with the Sound Tigers he showed he is a defenseman with size who can score, recording two goals and five assists, the most among the team’s defensemen.

“The puck got turned over in the neutral zone and (James) Wisniewski had it on his stick,” said Hamonic about his chance in the overtime period. “I came back for him and he shuffle passed it over and the (Blue Jackets) went for a line change. When the guy changed, I saw some open ice up so I figured I’d use my skating ability and get up ice.”

Playing in his first NHL game, Travis Hamonic #36 of the New York Islanders holds up Andrew Murray #17 of the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Nassau Coliseum on November 24, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
“I did and drove by one of their defenseman,” Hamonic continued. “I wasn’t quite sure who it was. I just really wanted to put my shoulder down and cut across the net. As I did that, I lost control of the puck. I saw the opportunity to score the game winner, but those are all chances I have to burry to help out the guys here.”

For his first NHL game, Capuano was impressed with Hamonic’s play all night.

“Travis played extremely well,” said Capuano. “He played almost twenty minutes (19:57). He played like he played in Bridgeport when I was there. He played confident. He’s big and strong and he moved the puck real well. He jumped in offensively. I don’t think he showed any nerves tonight. He played really poised.”

Despite playing solid defense and terrific goaltending by Rick DiPietro (34 saves), the Islanders continued their winless streak to 14 games. Although, Wednesday night’s matchup saw the Islanders earn a point in their second straight game and there were more signs that the team is starting to generate some offensive chances.

“Ricky and the defense were great tonight,” said Tavares. “We probably turned the puck over a little too much, but overall we played pretty well. We had chances. The power play has to be better, but it has to start somewhere. The last couple games have been building in the right direction.”

Trevor Gillies fired up the Islanders in the first period as he pounded Jared Boll up against the boards at 9:57 of the first period to earn an instigator penalty, a fighting major and a misconduct for a total of 17 penalty minutes. Boll took the fighting major and an added 2 minutes for roughing.

Nineteen seconds later, Islanders forward Trent Hunter put the Islanders on the scoreboard, scoring not only the first goal of the game, but also his first goal this season at 10:16. It’s the third straight game the Islanders have scored first.

Trent Hunter #7 of the New York Islanders scores at 10:16 oif the first period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Nassau Coliseum on November 24, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
But the Blue Jackets were handed a five-on-three when Zenon Konopka (closing hand on puck at 12:07) and Matt Martin (boarding at 12:01) went to the penalty box. With a two man advantage, Antoinne Vermette (13:48) scored to put Columbus on the board. Chris Clark (15:58) scored give the Blue Jackets back-to-back goals and finished out the first period with a one-goal lead over the Islanders.

“Our power play wasn’t very good,” Tavares said. “We had our opportunities and they capitalized on the 5-on-3. We were almost able to kill it off, but just a couple mistakes. (We had) a few chances. Frans (Nielsen) had a great chance that hit the post. If we get a few more of those going in it’s going to help us out.”

The Islanders started the second period with a lot of intensity as Grabner scored a mere 51 seconds into the period. Tavares followed it up at 2:24 scoring the Islanders third goal of the game, to bring them ahead of the Blue Jackets 3-2. Playing in his 100th NHL game, Tavares’ goal marked the first time in 12 games the Islanders have scored more than two goals.

“I think we are getting on top of it right now,” said Islanders defenseman Bruno Gervais about the new system Capuano put in place. “It’s starting to feel really good. First one or two games were a little harder because you are thinking a little too much or you think about the old one. You don’t know if you are doing (things) wrong. The last couple practices and games we can see a big difference.”

But two points in regulation were not to be as Columbus’ forward RJ Umberger tied the score at 3 at 6:46 of the third, sending the game into overtime.

“The forecheck was really good,” said Gervais. “We got a lot of chances on the forecheck and I know we have a lot of skills on this team. To see these guys working really hard and see JT (Tavares), (Matt) Moulson going out there, (PA) Parenteau, (Blake) Comeau all those guys, (Michael) Grabner, forechecking hard, working hard, that’s going to pay off.”

The Islanders will play the New Jersey Devils in a 1 p.m. matinee at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Friday.
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