And now for something positive: The Islanders were 3-2 winners against Anaheim on Thursday (12/16) night! But even more encouraging was the play of defenseman Andy MacDonald.
Against a bigger and stronger Anaheim team, MacDonald and fellow youngster Travis Hamonic performed the heavy lifting against the Ducks' front line seemingly all evening. Paired together, MacDonald paced the team with 25:53 in ice time, while Hamonic chipped in 23:38 of his own.
"I thought the two young kids were up to the challenge and played extremely well," said a jubilant head coach Jack Capuano after the game. 'Cap', as he's known, earned his second win as the head coach of the Islanders in a season that has been short on smiles.
MacDonald, the third-year man out of Nova Scotia, set career highs (as far as we can tell, some of the data is incomplete) in hits and blocked shots. He surpassed his former career high of seven blocked shots, set on March 2nd, 2010, against Chicago, by one. Along with the eight blocks were a solid five hits. He took four shots and would up a +1 on the night.
"It's been a rough go lately," a relieved MacDonald said after the game. "The important thing is that we got two points and something to build on."
They got the lead and eventually the two points by hammering three goals home in 99 seconds, the flurry beginning with about 5 minutes left to play in the first period. P.A. Parenteau, Blake Comeau, and Matt Moulson were the scorers.
The key to defeating a more talented Anaheim side, at least according to MacDonald, was being "strong on pucks and tying up [opponent's] sticks." Denying Anaheim's potent scorers shooting lanes was another winning approach the Isles took. Furthermore, he felt it was his best game since returning from a broken hand at the beginning of this month.
While MacDonald's Herculean effort earned him the second star of the game, the first standout on this night was goaltender rick DiPietro. DiPietro saved 30 pucks and stymied a late comeback attempt. It was a nice rebound after his last start, a game in which he and his teammates frittered away a lead against Atlanta.
News and notes:
- The Islanders broke a six game losing streak. The poor attendance continues, however, with an announced crowd of 7,659 in the house.
- Defenseman Milan Jurcina returned to action after being sidelined for 18 games with a hamstring injury. He logged 13:19 of ice time.
- Former Islander Jason Blake hurt his old team with his sixth goal of the season and an assist.
- The Islanders next take on Phoenix Saturday (12/18) evening, who lost to the New York Rangers 4-3 in overtime on Thursday.