It was a nail biter but the Islanders finished off the Devils in a shootout, thanks to Matt Moulson, to get their first win and first two points of the season. Nabokov started for the Islanders and allowed 3 goals on 29 shots, but stopped all 6 shootout attempts. Michael Grabner tallied 2 goals on breakaways, one in the first period and the other in the second, and then added an assist on Frans Nielsen’s goal in the third period. Hamonic, Bailey and Donovan each had one assist on the night.
The Important Things:
Michael Grabner was the player to watch for the Islanders tonight. He played a factor in all three goals and could have had another as he had 2 other chances on breakaways, both which Devils Marty Brodeur stopped. Grabner looked he was ready to prove that his 34 goal season 3 years ago was no fluke.
Evgeni Nabokov managed to get the win but allowed a soft goal by Devils forward Damien Brunner in the first and then as the game progressed Nabokov allowed a lot of big rebounds to happen after initial shots. He looked like a fish out of water a few times as he could be seen flopping around trying to make saves off rebounds. On the other hand, he wasn’t getting any help from the referees as late in the third period the Devils were in the his crease making contact with him a few times though no penalties were called.
Officially the Islanders were 2/2 on the penalty kill but the Devils scored seconds after one had just ended. The power play, which was 10th last year in the shorted season was 0-2 on the night and only managed one or two good chances. With Nabokov as shaky as he was tonight the Islanders will need to capitalize on every PP they get if they intend to make a deep playoff run this year.
Grabner is the obvious choice for this selection so lets go in a different direction. Matt Donovan is tonight’s selection. As a rookie he played close to 20 minutes on the ice. He saw some power play minutes, so late game regulation minutes and even some overtime minutes. He picked up an assist, a blocked shot and was a +1 on the night.
It is early in the season to say one individuals stock is falling as it has only been one game, so here are just a few points that the Islanders need to work on for tomorrow. Kyle Okposo needs to capitalize on his opportunities. Okposo was only credited with one shot but missed the net and hit the post one two other possible scoring chances. John Tavares looked completely invisible and the announcers only called his name a few times during the game, showing he was kind of a non-factor.
The Islanders come home for their first game home game of the season tomorrow night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are 0-1 on the young season. Puck drops at 7pm.