Young Islanders Defense Can’t Contain Capitals

Missed it by that much.

That was the common theme yesterday in the Islanders 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders came out and overpowered the talented, yet struggling Capitals team who lost 6-0 to the New York Rangers the previous game.

Jim McIsaac

For much of the first period, the Capitals even failed to register a single shot on net. The Islanders would go into the locker room after the first intermission up 1-0 and leading in shots 14-5. The Islanders also failed to convert twice on the power play in the early goings of the game, and killed off a penalty of their own.

The second period was pretty good as well, the Islanders held the advantage in shots, the Capitals put ten shots on goaltender Al Montoya and the Islanders had eight for the period. At just 2:26 of the second period, right after Travis Hamonic’s third goal of the season and the Islanders lead at 2-0 Zenon Konopka and Matt Hendricks had a very entertaining fight. Konokpa had the win – keeping momentum in the Islanders favor untill Brooks Laich was finally able to solve Montoya and ruin his shutout bid. The Islanders would have another power play with Laich sitting for a tripping penalty, but fail to convert on their third man advantage opportunity.

Here is the fight video:

As I said on Twitter after the second period, the Capitals would come out of the locker room a different team to start the third. They were outplayed for stretches and were trailing a goal. The Islanders were having some issues in maintaining the pressure and it wouldn’t take long for the Capitals to find the equalizer. Mike Knuble would score at 8:08 of the third to tie it and Alexander Semin would score the eventual game winner just four minutes later.

The Islanders would have a few chances to tie late in the third with Al Montoya pulled and an extra attacker on, but the Capitals held onto their lead. The Islanders couldn’t even buy an icing call on two occasions with their goaltender pulled – which was unfortunate and irritating. Not sure what the linesmen were looking at on those two plays, but the calls were waived off.

Jim McIsaac

The Islanders would finish the game with 31 shots, over the Capitals 22. The team had some prime scoring chances – such as Grabner’s opportunity on what was an open net that left him gazing skyward in frustration. Okposo, Nielsen and Tavares would also miss on opportunities – and the newly waived Rob Schremp failed to score on a great feed in the first period electing to stop the puck instead of shooting off the pass.

You have to credit the Islanders defense playing as injured as they are, just one of the Islanders starting defensive corps is currently on the roster – Andy MacDonald. With recently injured players in Milan Jurcina and Radek Martinek out for an undetermined amount of time, it’s nice to see the young d-men playing well enough to give the Islanders a chance.

The mood in the locker room was somber and quiet, you could sense the frustration by the tight knit young Islanders club. Kyle Okposo was stoic and mature in front of the camera and spoke about needing to address allowing three unanswered goals, and getting away from the game that gave them success early on in the game. Al Montoya would echo his teammate, talking about giving the Capitals too much room to capitalize and allowing them to utilize their skill.

Jack Capuano addressed the media during his post game scrum and echoed his players statements, saying they got away from their game, made some small mistakes and not being able to capitalize on their power play opportunities. He explained shortening the bench in the third, wanting to give his two hottest lines more time to try to knot the game up.

With the trade deadline coming up tomorrow – several players may not be with the team come tomorrow night. Radek Martinek and Zenon Konopka are two players talked about in rumors the last week, but you never know what GM Garth Snow will do – should the right deal present itself.

That could have been another reason why the locker room was so quiet, not playing another game until Tuesday – the Islanders may lose a member or two from what Zenon Konopka has called “a family”. But that’s an unfortunate part of the game that often cannot be avoided. Only time will tell which brothers or cousins may not be present after the deadline.

Michael Schuerlein

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