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In as important a game as they’ve had in the last couple of years, the New York Islanders wouldn’t be held down as they obtained a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets, cutting the deficit from the 8th place in the Eastern Conference to 6 points with one game in hand. The win also gave the Islanders their first four game road winning streak since January 2008.

After a very rough night against Florida on Sunday, the Islanders weren’t about to let up another huge game slip by their fingers. The first period was a rough one, as Winnipeg outshot and for the most part outplayed the Islanders, obtaining the lead after a bad rebound from Nabokov and worse defensive coverage from Steve Staios gave Thorburn all he needed to give the Jets the lead late in the first. Although the Islanders didn’t start out the game the way they were necessarily hoping to, they rebounded early in the second. A one-two between Matt Moulson and John Tavares ended in a power play goal for the Islanders, tying the game at 1. The rest of a second was a battle throughout and would end tied at 1, as both teams refused to give up in the slightest way in a battle for a playoff spot. This would change early in the third, as a heads up play by Milan Jurcina enabled a tip-in goal in the slot by PA Parenteau giving the Islanders a 2-1 lead. The battle would continue for the remainder of a game, but the defense and Nabokov refused to give up absolutely anything, and an empty netter from Martin would close the game at 3-1.

Capuano described the first period as one that they had to battle through, and that “it was gut wrench time for us, and I thought we played much better in the second and third period”. The Islanders certainly did that, blocking shots throughout, skating harder and plain out wanting the game more than the Jets tonight.

Every game is huge at this point in the season for the Islanders, but games against teams in the race with them are even bigger, as they can hardly afford to give up opportunities to jump up in the standings. Andrew MacDonald told reporters after the game that, “everyone tried to do a little bit extra tonight, cause there was a lot on the line.”

The Islanders now look to St. Louis on Thursday, who’s seemed to be almost impossible to beat in their own building, but Capuano thinks of it as a “good test”. It certainly would be as a win against a team that has only lost 3 games in regulation in their own building would go a long way as far as confidence goes.

 

A few other quick points about tonight’s game:

-Refereeing almost cost the Islanders again, as the referees made 3 bad calls which could’ve easily cost the Islanders had it not been for Reasoner, Pandolfo, and MacDonald’s work on the PK.

-Staios had a rough night at the office. Bad coverage led to first goal, and almost cost the Islanders on the PK when a failed attempt at clearing the puck led to Byfuglien hitting the crossbar on a slapshot. Possibility of Wishart making season debut on Thursday, but only a possibility as Capuano said Wishart call up was more for insurance purposes.

-Bailey had another great game. He’s really impressed me this season, points may not show a lot, but he’s been playing with as much confidence as anybody, and is single handedly making that 3rd line dangerous. The Parenteau goal was a result of his refusal to give up the puck in the boards, and turned in yet another goal in which he was crucial but was given no credit.

-Aaron Ness has been excellent the past few games. He’s been the best defenseman for the Islanders after MacDonald, and is definitely making a case to stick around after Hamonic returns. Look for Snow to be more open to trading a defenseman following his recent play.

-Pandolfo was probably the hardest worker on the ice tonight, killing penalties and skating as hard as anybody.

-Wishart’s call up seemed to give Jurcina a bit of a wake-up call. Jurcina was probably the worst defenseman for the Islanders the last few games, and now that there’s a chance of him being a healthy scratch, he made very few mistakes in his own zone and was the main contributor to the Parenteau goal.

-Nabokov was huge for the Islanders tonight. He let up a bad rebound on the first goal but was lights out the rest of the way through. 37 saves tonight, probably the best player on the Islanders the past few weeks.

-Parenteau was huge as well tonight. If you thought his goal was impressive take a closer look at the empty net goal by Martin. PA was in the middle of a long shift, and after the puck was dumped in the Winnipeg zone everyone skated for a change, everyone except PA that is. Instead he outskated the Jet defenseman, got the puck, waited and dangled the puck in the corner for the Islanders to change and basically handed Martin a goal.

-Reasoner was a very respectable 55% on faceoffs in his return; covering up a hole he left when he broke his hand, and which was only partially covered by Pandolfo.

- I saved the best for last. Pat Flatley was once again between the benches for the Islanders tonight, and at one point during the third period, he started talking about how John Tavares’ work ethic and pure determination would one day push him to being the best player in the NHL. Couldn’t agree more with Flatley on that one.