Coming in to Thursday (11/17) night's game against Montreal, the Islanders were sitting precariously on the cusp of an unpleasant milestone.
The franchise, whose all-time record stood at 1317-1316-347-77 (W-L-T-OTL) before the puck dropped, was in danger of falling to .500 for the first time since 1978.
They were also facing a hot squad in the Montreal Canadiens, winners of 7 of their last 10 games. The one small advantage the Islanders perhaps held was that the Habs had played Carolina on Wednesday night.
Fortunately for the Isles, a bit of unpleasant history was averted.
The Islanders secured a 4-3 win, though they took an unconventional route to victory.
Evegeni Nabokov, part of the "three-headed monster" in goal (that has worked surprisingly better than expected this season) was injured just under eight minutes in. Rick DiPietro, the eventual winner, replaced him.
After an even first period, it took a lucky carom off the boards behind the goal and a misplay of the carom by Canadiens' goaltender Peter Budaj to gift wrap a goal for the home team.
P.A. Parenteau, the twenty goal scorer from last season, wasted no time in capitalizing on the mistake. For Parenteau, it was his third goal of the year.
Invigorated by a rare lead, Josh Bailey helped Jay Pandolfo score another one with just 3:01 gone in the period. For Pandolfo, it was a double milestone, as it was both his first goal as an Islander and number 100 in his NHL career.
Mark Streit tripled the home fans' pleasure with a goal of his own at 9:01. Of note, the goal was the first this season by an Islanders defenseman at even strength.
The tide turned against the Isles soon, though, as two poor defensive plays led to Montreal goals. The fans, and perhaps the coaches, were having flashbacks of the game against Colorado earlier in the season in which the Isles frittered away a 3-0 lead.
Matt Moulson righted the ship towards the end of the period, however. Matt has been hot of late, scoring four goals in his last five games. John Tavares and the aforementioned DiPietro assisted on the effort.
Though they allowed a late power play goal to Brian Gionta which set up a tense finish, the Islanders held on and secured a much needed victory.
The sentiment in the locker room after the win was both one of relief and a sense of a deserved payoff after some recent games filled with hard work and no points.
The Islanders get a chance to take another step in the right direction on Saturday night (11/19). More on that game below.
News and notes:
- Somewhat surprisingly, Kyle Okposo was a healthy scratch for a second consecutive game. It was reported elsewhere that he has watched all of his shifts from this season on video. I fully expect him to return to the ice for Saturday night's tilt against the Boston Bruins.
- Speaking of Saturday night, Islanders legend (and the team's first captain) Ed Westfall will be honored in a pregame ceremony. He will be inducted into the Islanders Hall of Fame, and will even call a period of hockey with "Jiggs" McDonald. It should be a fun evening.
- Nabokov left the game with a reported groin injury. He will be re-evaluated on Friday. Rick DiPietro, making his second relief appearance of the year, filled in ably by saving 24 of the 27 shots he faced.
- Lastly, this game featured a unique personnel quirk. It was believed to be the first time that four Swiss-born players had ever played in the same NHL game. The teams had two apiece; Mark Streit and Nino Niederreiter for the Islanders and Raphael Diaz and Yannick Weber for the Habs.