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The Islanders season kicked off October 8th in front of a packed house. Unfortunately for the Islanders, their game was not with them and the Panthers blew by them in a 2-0 shutout. Islander fans were disappointed and let down by their team.
Though it was only two goals, the Islanders looked sloppy. The team couldn’t cross the blue line with out causing a turn over, and the dump and chase method just wasn’t working for them. Al Montoya was left in goal with no support around him. Assuming that coach Jack Capuano gave him a piece of his mind, the next few games were a bit different.
After the depressing home opener, the Islanders played a Columbus day matinee against the Minnesota Wild. The Islanders scored two goals in the first period, which belonged to Andrew McDonald and Frans Nielson. The penalty kill was dead on and killed everything that came their way. Matt Cullen scored the only Minnesota goal in the game which came in the third period. The Islanders and Al Montoya held on to the lead to get their first win of the season.
Everyone in the NHL knows the Lightning is a tough team full of star-caliber players. The Lightning did not look like that team against the Islanders. The Islanders scored four goals to open the game in the first period. The first goal came only 36 seconds in to the period. These goals were delivered by none other than John Tavares (2), Matt Moulson, and PA Parenteau.
Steve Stamkos also scored in the first period and was the lone scorer for the Lightning. The second period saw little scoring as Michael Grabner was the only player to score. The third period saw no scoring but many chances. Al Montoya came up clutch once again, making 34 of 35 saves. John Tavares recorded 2 goals and 2 assists on the night for a 4-point game.
Following the two home wins, the Islanders played one more before heading to Tampa. The Islanders played their long time rival, the New York Rangers. The crowd was packed and Ranger fans piled in as well. It was a back and forth game and in the end, it was the Islanders celebrating yet another home victory.
The goals came back and forth between teams. Matt Moulson put the Islanders ahead in the first. The Islanders headed back to the locker room with the lead, only to be scored on by Marian Gaborik in the second. John Tavares answered on a power play goal, but Brandon Prust than tied it up once again for the Blue Coats. The third period once again saw number 91 scoring two more goals. John Tavares scored on a tip in from Streit and Parenteau for number two. Tavares than hit the empty net with two minutes left for the hat trick.
The Ranger fans piled out of the arena to cheering Islander fans who have bragging rights until the teams next meeting. Evgeni Nabakov started in goal for the Islanders and put up good numbers. Nabakov saved 29-31 shots and allowed no power play goals.
Jack Capuano “went with his gut” when starting Montoya on opening night. His gut seems to be working just fine because Montoya has just four goals against in three games played. His save percentage is a .953 with a 1.35 goals against average. With Rick DiPietro’s health being a key factor to the upcoming season, Montoya seems ready to take the team on his back and win. Also worth noting, Montoya is second in the league in goals against and third in the league with his .953 save percentage.
Tavares signed his new deal before the season started, now wears the “A” on his sweater and has a new attitude. Tavares has had two back-to-back four-point games. Tavares is tied for second in the league with eight points and is third in the league with five goals. Don’t expect Tavares to slow down: this is the season every Islander fan has been waiting to see.
PA Parenteau has been very helpful on the first line. Scoring only one goal in four games seems like very little, but his six assists makes up for it. Parenteau is tied for third in the league in assists and is a big help to John Tavares. The first line is really stepping up this season and is going to be a key factor for the remainder.
Hamonic isn’t known as “The Hammer” for nothing. This kid has a shot and a half that will get by a goalie in a split second. Hamonic has only one assist on the year so far. Last year Hamonic recorded 21 assists before the seasons end. Expect Hamonic to step up this year and go even harder.
We have only seen Michael Grabner score one goal so far this season. In four games he has only recorded his one goal, no assists and a plus/minus of -1. Do not fear Grabner fans, last year he broke out after the All-Star break. A slow start shouldn’t put doubt in any fans mind. Grabner is a speed machine and expect to see some of his breakaway magic soon.
All most Islander fans know about this hot goaltender is that he wanted nothing to do with this team a year ago. This year he started against the Rangers and looked pretty good. Nabakov is an elite goaltender and brings a lot to the Islanders roster. If DiPietro cannot stay healthy, Nabakov is a key goaltender for the team. If it was my choice, Montoya would start and Nabakov would be his back up all season.