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With Al Montoya on the shelf and Kevin Poulin backing up, Evgeni Nabokov stepped up majorly for the Islanders. The Islanders usually set their pace on high after the All-Star break, which is now upon us.
Last year the team was not looking good and was close to making a playoff spot towards the end of the season. This year, the team is almost at .500 in their record and after the All-Star break could kick it in to high gear and claim that spot.
The Islanders managed to cap off a victory against the first place Red Wings on home ice. It was no back and forth battle, the Islanders dominated and won the game 5-1. The Islanders also managed to defeat the Buffalo Sabres on home ice with a final score of 4-2. Nabokov still looked fresh and the skaters were skating up ice. Following a terrible defeat to the Predators, the Islanders shut out the Capitals 3-0. Nabokov was the first Islander to shut out the Capitals on their home ice since Tommy Salo.
Also, beyond everyone’s expectations, the Islanders managed to defeat their rival the Flyers on their home ice in a nice 4-1 win. Nabokov almost had another shut out as one slipped past him in the third. Nabokov had 159 shutout minutes leading up to that goal by the Flyers. The Islanders also defeated the Hurricanes at the Coliseum 2-1 in overtime.
Prior to their win against the Flyers in Philly, the Islanders lost a hard fought battle against the Bully’s on Coliseum ice. They pulled Nabokov with minutes left and managed to score. It was too late as the deficit was still only one with seconds remaining. The Islanders lost 3-2. The Predators came to town to score three goals in the opening period and carry them in to the third and win the game 3-1. The heartbreaker resulted in the shutout the next night.
The Islanders traveled to Toronto to take on the Leafs, who edged them 3-0. They took their frustration to the Coliseum the next night and it was a close one. The game was tied at 2 in the third when Grabovski put one past the returning Al Montoya. With minutes left Montoya hit the bench and PA Parenteau scored, pushing overtime. Overtime had controversy written all over it. A hooking penalty was not called against Matt Moulson, which resulted in the Leafs skating down the ice and scoring on a close play. Montoya made the save behind the line and it resulted in a goal and the game over.
The heartbreaker was tough on the team leading in to the All-Star break. Through both games, the Islanders were only given one power play. Is it a coincidental that the Toronto team (where NHL’s base is) gets away with penalties and can do what they want?
The Islanders return to action on the 31st against the Hurricanes in Carolina.