On Saturday night, the Islanders looked like a completely different team from their game just one week ago in Philadelphia. Even though they lost their seventh straight game, the 2-1 loss had a much different look and feel than some of the heftier losses in the slide.
Throughout the first 40 minutes, the Islanders were the better team. They controlled the majority of the play in the offensive zone with 44 scoring chances (23 shots on net and 21 blocked shots). In that same time frame, the Flyers only had 15 shots on net and four blocked shots for a total of 19 chances.
“The last two games we were expecting to win,” said defenseman James Wisniewksi. “I think everyone can say that we carried the flow of play that whole game. It just seems that every game if we have two or three breakdowns, it leads to goals. It’s just what happens.”
Entering into the third period, with the game tied at one, the Islanders continued with their streak of chances, but a turnover led to a high shot by Eric Wellwood through traffic. Unfortunately, the puck bounced off of goaltender Dwayne Roloson’s facemask straight to Andreas Nodl who scored the game-winner off the rebound at 14:35.
“About seven minuets in the third period, they took it to us,” Wisniewski said. “We couldn’t get out of our zone and they scored a goal at the end. Right after that we took it back and we just couldn’t find the back of the net. We played well.”
The Islanders showed more pressure in the offensive zone, keeping steady traffic in front of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky through the better part of the game.
As a result of that pressure, forward Matt Moulson
was able to tie up the score at 7:33 of the second period, on the fourth of six Islanders power plays in the period. Fifty-five seconds after Jeff Carter went to the box for high sticking Radek Martinek, Wisniewski dumped the puck in from the neutral zone and it wrapped around the back of the boards, where Moulson was able to grab it for a snap shot that wrung off the goal post and into the net.
For the first time in a long time, the Islanders held an opponent scoreless the majority of the first period. With just 1:08 remaining in the period, Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger took a slap shot from the blue line and center Mike Richards was there to tip it in.
“(Richards) was able to get it back towards the net from where he was,” Roloson said. “He’s a guy that’s got great hand-eye coordination and gets a lot of goals from that position. I’ll have to take a look at it to see if it was high. Obviously the league has looked at it and ruled that it was good.”
Even without earning two points Saturday, it was a major step in the right direction. If they continue to play with the same attitude and pressure in the offensive zone, their luck is bound to turn around.