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Written by Roberto Scalia | 27 March 2012



With any shot at the playoffs pretty much shot, the New York Islanders are now playing with the role of spoiler and just making the best of what remains of this season. The Pittsburgh Penguins were the victims of this particular night, as the Islanders beat the Pens for the first time in Pittsburgh since December, 2007, and putting a dent in the Penguins’ hopes to obtain first place in the conference over the New York Rangers.

The Islanders would come out flying, and it wouldn’t take them long to get the lead as Dylan Reese would fire a puck off the boards, right onto the stick of Frans Nielsen who shot it right into a practically empty net. The Penguins would buzz throughout the rest of the period, with Evgeni Nabokov having to come up big a couple of times, but it would be the Islanders who would get the next goal. As the period was coming to a close, Frans Nielsen would spring Michael Grabner into the Pittsburgh zone, and Grabner would fire one right past Marc-Andre Fleury and give the Islanders a 2-0 lead into the second period.

The second period started as most would have guessed, the Penguins came out flying and shooting left right and center. A deflection by Tyler Kennedy would cut the lead 2-1, and the game would be tied not too late after that. It’s a commonly known rule that when a defenseman pinches, there needs to be a forward to stay behind to cover for that defenseman, but it seems like the Islanders’ top line forgot that particular rule. As Mark Streit went to pinch to create a 2-on-1, no one stayed back to cover for him leading to a 2-on-1 going the other way with Chris Kunitz and James Neal, which ended in Neal hammering a one timer past Nabokov for 36th of the year.

After surviving the early onslaught, however, the ice seemed to tilt back in the Islanders favor as Kyle Okposo would take advantage of a mistake by Brooks Orpik, and fire a wrister right past Fleury and give the Islanders back their lead. The Islanders weren’t done however, and during a power play, Josh Bailey would make a brilliant play to pass it to a wide open David Ullstrom in front of the net, who made no mistake and shot it home for a PPG. Josh Bailey would do it again less than three minutes later, making a great pass to spring Frans Nielsen on a breakaway, who would deke the puck around a lunging Fleury and easily shoot it into the now empty net.

The Penguins would get one back off yet another one timer by James Neal during a 4 on 3 power play with the goaltender pulled, but it was all too little too late as the Islanders came out with the 5-3 win.

The only negatives of the game came in the third period, when Evgeni Nabokov wasn’t able to return to finish the game, after seemingly aggravating yet again his injured groin. No official word was given other then it was a lower body injury, but looking at the incident leading to the injury, the groin would seem to be a pretty safe bet. David Ullstrom also didn’t play in the third period, suffering from reportedly an upper body injury, and the only thing fans can do is simply hope it isn’t a concussion. Head coach Jack Capuano stated that he doesn’t expect either player to be ready to play in the second part of this home and home series versus the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night at the Nassau Coliseum.

The question now becomes who will back up Al Montoya, the likely starter, on Thursday night? With Nabokov being likely ruled out by Capuano, and Anders Nilsson still recovering from an injury suffered in Bridgeport, the only goaltender remaining is Kevin Poulin. However, calling Poulin up would put a very large dent in any hopes the Sound Tigers have of making the playoffs. One player to possibly keep an eye on is Rick DiPietro, who’s been practicing for over a week now. If he is close to being game ready, the Islanders shouldn’t hesitate to let him back up Montoya on Thursday night, so as to keep Poulin in Bridgeport and keep their playoff hopes alive. Whether it’s Poulin, DiPietro, or even Bridgeport’s backup, it will certainly be very interesting to see how the Islanders decide to deal with this latest goaltending issue.

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Written by Christian A. | 25 March 2012



After losing a game they should have won last night, they turned around and defeated the Florida Panthers 3-2 in the shootout.

Islanders starting goaltender stopped 33 of 35 shots he faced for a save percentage of .943. Panthers starter Jose Theodore stopped 35 of 37 shots for a save percentage of .946 percent. The Islanders outshot Florida 37-35.

The game started off slow for the Islanders in the first period. Nearly two minutes in Sean Bergenheim almost scored from in front of the net all alone, but Nabokov was able to make the save. Several minutes later, at 5:55, Stephen Weiss scored off a pass from Tomas Fleischmann behind the net. The Islanders had several scoring chances as the game progressed, but couldn’t find the back of the net.

However, with 1:03 left in the second period Matt Moulson buried a shot to tie the game at one. The Isles worked the puck around eventually finding Moulson, who tipped the puck to John Tavares. Tavares passed the puck right back to Moulson, who fired the shot from the hash marks past Theodore.

The Panthers would get the lead once more with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the game. Mark Streit to work the puck around the boards and of the Islanders zone, but a Florida player managed to cut off the attempt. The puck bounced right to Fleischmann, who was able to put it through Nabokov’s five-hole to make it 2-1 Panthers.

But the Islanders were not done just yet.

As the Islanders transitioned back into the Panthers zone, Frans Nielsen passed the puck over to Kyle Okposo. Okposo shot the puck towards a streaking Mark Streit, but the puck hit off the stick of Panther defensemen Dmitry Kulikov and redirected the net.

The game remained scoreless and went to overtime.

Michael Grabner looked to have a sure game winning goal midway through OT, but Theodore looked to have thrown his stick at the puck knocking it away from Grabner. No penalty was called on play and the game would end up having to head to the shootout.

Frans Nielsen won it using his forehand, backhand shot to beat Theodore and Nabokov stoned the three Panthers shooters.

Game Notes

- Matt Moulson scored his 34th goal of the season at 18:57 of the second period.

- John Tavares added his 44th assist of the season on Matt Moulson’s goal. It was also Tavares’s 75th point of the season.

- Mark Streit led Islanders Defensemen in ice time with 26:50.

- PA Parenteau led Islanders Forwards in ice time with 20:07.

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Written by Christian A. | 25 March 2012



The Islanders get back on the horse tonight when they take on the Florida Panthers at the Bank Atlantic Center.

The Isles fell to Lightning last night in a game they should have won. Steven Stamkos gave Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead, but Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo closed the gap. Matt Moulson gave the Islanders the lead 43 seconds into the third. That lead disappeared when Tom Pyatt scored for Tampa and former Islander Tim Wallace scored the game winner. Al Montoya stopped 22 of 26 shots for the Islanders in the loss and had a .846 save percentage.

Tonight, they’ll face a Panthers team that has had their number all season long. The Panthers defeated the Islanders 4-1 last time they met at the Nassau Coliseum.

Evgeni Nabokov is back in net for the Islanders tonight and Jay Pandolfo will be in the lineup. Capuano has not announced the scratches.

Below is the Florida Panthers projected lineup:

Forwards:
Fleischmann-Weiss-Versteeg
Bergenheim-Goc-Samuelsson
Kopecky-Matthias-Wolski
Barch-Madden-Upshall

Defensemen:
Garrison-Campbell
Kulikov-Weaver
Jovanovski-Gudbranson

Goaltenders:

Theodore, Clemmenson

Pre-Game Reading

Michael Fornabaio has the lineups and numbers for this afternoon’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers Vs. Connecticut Whale. Kevin Poulin is playing in his 11th game in 12 days.  (Connecticut Post)

Arthur Staple looks at some of the Isles top prospects and where they will likely be next season. (Newsday)

Could the next few weeks be the end of Al Montoya’s tenure as an Islander? "Obviously, there's no surprises with Nabokov signed now," coach Jack Capuano said. "Al's a great teammate, a great kid and he's trying to help us down the stretch and help himself. You don't know where it's going to go." (Newsday)

Speaking of Nabokov, he likes the Islanders work ethic. (Newsday)

Isles prospect Cory Trivino has caught a small break in his felony case. The DA has dropped six of the most serious charges that could have landed him in jail for at least 20 years. (BU Today)

Quebec City took another step closer to getting an NHL team back. Mayor Regis Lebeaume announced that construction on a brand new $400 million arena will begin in September with hopes to have it completed by 2015. Coyotes fans should be more worried than Isles fans right now. (Pro Hockey Talk)

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Written by Christian A. | 24 March 2012



The Islanders are looking to making it three wins in a row as they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Last time these two teams met was back on December 6 at the Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders came away with a 5-1 win with goals from John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Matt Martin, David Ullstrom and Milan Jurcina. Al Montoya stoped 23 of the 24 shots he faced and put up a .958 save percentage.

Tonight the Islanders will send Montoya back out to defend the net against the lightning. He is making his second start in row since playing on February 20 against the Ottawa Senators.

Milan Jurcina and Jay Pandolfo will be tonight’s scratches for the Isles. Below is tonight’s Islanders lineup:

Forwards
Matt Moulson-John Tavares-Kyle Okposo
Josh Bailey-Frans Nielsen-PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner-Casey Cizikas-David Ullstrom
Nino Niederreiter-Marty Reasoner-Matt Martin

Defensemen
Mark Streit-Dylan Reese
Travis Hamonic-Andrew MacDonald
Steve Staios-Mark Eaton

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Written by Christian A. | 24 March 2012



The Occupational safety and Health administration is inspecting the Nassau Coliseum for asbestos after workers at the arena filed a complaint.

“OSHA opened an inspection at the coliseum on Tuesday in response to a worker complaint,” Ted Fitzgerald, U.S. Department or Labor’s Regional Director for Public Affairs, told Islanders Hockey Blog. “The purpose of the inspection will be to determine if there are any violations of workplace health and safety standards. If the inspection identifies violations, OSHA could issue citations and propose fines to the employer (SMG). The inspection is ongoing. It's too early to estimate a completion date at this time.”

Fitzgerald couldn’t go into any more detail because the inspection is ongoing.

The asbestos came to light yesterday when the lawyer, Joe Dell, representing workers at the building spoke to NBC 4. “I don’t think it’s a safe place and I don’t think it’s a safe place for my clients to work,” he said in the interview.

Workers at the Coliseum are planning to sue both SMG and Nassau County.

“My concern and my clients concern is for there safety,” Dell later added. “Being there everyday and working there everyday in (asbestos).”

The New York Islanders do not play at the Nassau Coliseum until next Thursday, but are aware of the current inspections by the state.

"The Islanders, as the primary tenant, expect that the building owner, Nassau County, and the building facility manager, SMG, will review the allegations and take any and all appropriate action,” Islanders Senior Vice President Michael Picker said in a statement. It is my understanding that the review has already begun. The safety of our fans, players and employees is paramount."

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Written by Christian A. | 21 March 2012



Evgeni Nabokov signed a one-year contract extension with the New York Islanders this morning. According to Bob McKenzi of TSN, the deal is worth $2.75 million.

“I’m thrilled to commit to this team for next season,” Nabokov said in a team press release. “We have a great group in the locker room of young, talented players and we’re heading in the right direction. I’m excited to have the chance to help get this team back to the playoffs.”

Nabokov took over the reigns as the Islanders number one goaltender in December after Al Montoya was sidelined with a concussion. This season the Russian net minder has gone 17-18-3 with a goals against average of 2.56 and a save percentage of .912.

Islanders General Manager Garth Snow believes that Nabokov can still play at an elite level. “He’s given us a chance to win every night and we’re excited to have him back for another season,” he said in a press release.

The re-signing of Nabokov raises serious doubts that Al Montoya will return to the Islanders for next season. He has seen to limited game action since returning from injury. He’s only appeared in 23 games and has gone 7-6-5.

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Written by Christian A. | 20 March 2012



Newsday is reporting that Anders Lee is staying at Notre Dame for next season, contrary to reports which said he was planning to join the team once his season ended.

According to the report, Lee informed GM Garth Snow over the weekend that he intended to stay at Notre Dame for his junior season.

This past season Lee scored 17 goals and had 17 assists over 40 games for the Irish. Notre Dame’s season ended early after they did not receive an at large bid for the NCAA hockey tournament.

There is some concern that could become an unrestricted free agent by exploiting a loophole in the current CBA that says a college hockey player must be signed before the fourth June following his draft year. If they aren’t the player could become an unrestricted free agent and Lee’s fourth June is coming up next summer.

This situation happened last summer to the Islanders last summer when Jason Gregoire, an Islander third round pick in 2007, exploited the loophole and became a free agent. He eventually signed with the Winnipeg Jets.

But there is no indication that Lee will leave the organization and Newsday noted that the loophole will most likely closed during CBA negotiations.

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