Through most of last nights game against the Montreal Canadians, the Islanders looked like a team trying to hold the flood gates together for as long as possible. Then with one unimaginable twist of fate everything changed.
Coming into the season the Islanders were predicted to be in the running for the number one draft pick and be out of contention for the playoffs by March. Through the first month of the season, the Islanders didn't do much to disprove that.
Then came two instances that marked the high point and the low point of the season for the Islanders.
November: 1 Montreal Canadians @ New York Islanders
In the first two periods of the game the traveling fans from Montreal were silenced by four Islander goals and they led 4-1 after 40 minutes. But in the third period everything fell apart.
The Canadians scored four times in the third period including two goals in 1:13 that first tied the game then gave the Canadians the lead. By the end of the game the Nassau Coliseum felt like the old Montreal Forum with the noise made by the away fans. The Canadians would hold on to win 5-4.
But a funny thing would happen between that game and now.
Just as it seemed as if the Islanders would be in for an extremely long year, they began to get hot. Between the first and now the Islanders have only lost three times. They won games against the Rangers, Senators, and Canucks all teams forcasted to have good years. Granted Ottawa has been slumping as of late they are still a good team. They have weathered injuries and suspensions and are now turning heads around the league.
Then last night everything came full circle.
November 24: New York Islanders @ Montreal Canadians
Proving that nothing in the world is predictable the Canadians came into that game seemingly going the opposite direction of the Islanders. They won only three times and two of them were against the Senators. Nonetheless the atmosphere at the Bell Centre made a game in the middle of November feel like a playoff game.
The Islanders started out well with a powerplay goal from Richard Park but the Canadians came back to score twice through goals from Steve Begin and Josh Gorges. Maxim Lapierre scored in the second to make it 3-1 but Trent Hunter scored to make it 3-2 after 40 minutes. Judging from the run of play it could've been 6-2.
In the third, the Canadians peppered the Islander goal trying to get the insurance goal but the defense held on. Then with fifteen minutes gone by in the period luck finally turned the Islander way.
After a questionable call against Sean Bergenheim was signaled by the referees goalie Canadian goalie Carey Price went to the bench in favor for an extra attacker with the puck still be fought for in front of the penalty boxes. Then Ryan O'Byrne picked the puck up unaware that a delayed call was in effect and that his goalie had gone to the bench. He entered his zone being pressured by Doug Weight and tried to pass to the goalie to redirect it. His goalie wasn't there and it slid in the net.
O'Byrne buried his head in his hand while being booed and heckled by the local fans. The game was tied.
In overtime, both teams managed to get a good chance but were denied by the goalies. A shootout followed and the both Richard Park and Bill Guerin calmly converted and Andre Kostitsyn and Alex Tanguay were denied by Islander goalie Joey MacDonald.
The Islanders had won a game that they appeared to be at times holding on for deer life in.
For a team, that seemed to be getting ripped off by the league and going through an era of bad luck last night showed that maybe the hockey gods are beginning to smile on the Islanders.
Now if those same hockey gods can ensure a new arena then the Islanders would be set.