30 December 2011
Uniondale, NY -- The Islanders snapped a three game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. Andrew MacDonald, John Tavares and Brian each scored for the Islanders and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 29 shots in the Islander win.
The Islanders have played well against the flames since the NHL lockout and last night’s game was no different. As a team, the Islanders blocked 19 shots, with Andrew MacDonald leading the team with five, and played a physical game laying 28 hits on the Calgary Flames.
“I thought tonight that it was a total team effort,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said after the game. “Guys should be proud of their work ethic that they put fourth tonight.”
Though Calgary scored the games first goal, a fluke goal by Tim Jackman that bounced off Andrew MacDonald and found its’ way into the net, the Islanders did not lose their strong style of play.
“We had a real good first shift,” Capuano started off saying when asked about the Jackman goal. “We had a lot of zonetime and it was just a fluke goal. Jackman went to the net, they threw it on and the puck finds its’ way in. But we been through a lot, obviously, over the last three or four weeks so I don’t think anything could really faze us too much right now.”
The Islanders would create several scoring chances, but Kiprusoff would keep the Islanders off the board. Eventually their perseverance would pay off three minutes into the second period. Andrew MacDonald scored the equalizer from the slot.
“I just noticed their forwards weren’t paying attention,” MacDonald said after the game of his goal. “There was a lot of play area open down the middle. PA did a great job putting it on my stick and I just got some good wood on it.”Pressure would continue to be put on Kiprusoff and the Flames. After being stopped earlier in the game, John Tavares eventually found a way to get one past Kiprusoff and give his team the lead.
Evgeni Nabokov would hold the lead by making some timely saves and Brian Rolston iced the game with an empty net goal with 43 seconds left in the game.
“[Nabokov] was strong for us,” Capuano said of his goaltender. “I thought again tonight his goalie touches were real good. He played the puck for us back there and really communicated with our D.”
“He’s been like that all year for us,” Tavares said of Nabokov’s play. “He’s a huge part of this hockey club, he’s an experienced guy that’s been through a lot in his career and really knows how to handle any kind of situation in any game and definitely a stabilizer back there for us. Some times mistakes are gunna, bounces aren’t gunna go your way and you need that big save and he’s been giving it to us all year, so it’s huge.”
After being shutout by the New York Rangers on Monday, the Isles second loss to their hated rivals in less than a week, and a tough loss to the Maple Leafs last Friday the Islanders knew they need to find a way to turn things around.
“We were pretty frustrated the last few games,” MacDonald said last night. “Obviously last game we were shut out and I never like getting shutout, but we had a pretty tough practice the next day and we all worked really hard. Yesterday we went over a lot of system work and I think it showed today. We battled real hard, we finished our hits, we didn’t have as many turnovers and guys showed a real good commitment to get that win.”
Veteran Brian Rolston knows that the team needs to continue this to get wins.
“We have to play with more desperation,” Rolston said. “If we don’t play with desperation we’re not going to win hockey games and get back into the playoff hunt, that’s the bottom line. We have to be prepared for it.”
Overall Capuano was pleased with the effort he saw from his players and the grit they played with.
“I think we played extremely hard,” Capuano said. I think we played with a lot of passion tonight and commitment to our game and guys got rewarded for it. Moulson made a key block late in the game and Nabby gave us a chance to win, but we played hard tonight. It was a game we really established what we try to do with our identity is to get pucks deep, work back behind the goal line and I though we did a good job of that tonight.”
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