You can’t blame the New York Islanders for being frustrated over Saturday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks at the Nassau Coliseum Saturday night. The Isles did so many things right, only to see a questionable penalty call go against them in overtime which led directly to Brent Burns’ game winning power play goal at the 1:07 mark of the extra session.
The controversial call came 29 seconds into overtime. Isles defenseman Travis Hamonic was called for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass while inside his own zone. Replays clearly showed the puck deflecting off the plexiglass before heading into the crowd but the officials obviously didn’t see it and called the penalty despite vehement arguments from the Isles bench led by assistant coach Doug Weight.
“It looked pretty clear that it hit the glass,” Isles goalie Rick DiPietro said after the game. “Sometimes due to the speed of the game, you miss calls.”
“I don’t know who made the call or which guy saw it on the ice, but most of us thought it hit the glass,” forward Michael Grabner added. “We thought we heard it on the bench, but we have to put that behind us and move forward.”
The Sharks took full advantage of the power play opportunity and cashed in when Burns beat DiPietro with a wrist shot from the right point that sailed over the goalie’s shoulder and into the net.
It was the Sharks second power play tally of the game with the first coming just 17 seconds into the contest when Joe Pavelski put home a rebound past DiPietro to quickly give San Jose the early lead.
“It’s not really how you want to start your first game after a month off,” DiPietro admitted. “Maybe it was good to just get the nerves out and not have to worry about the shutout, get that out of the way.”
John Tavares tied the score at 1-1 early in the second period when his line put together a flurry of shots at Sharks goalie Thomas Greiss during an Islander power play. Greiss stopped the first two shots but Tavares was there to put home the third opportunity at 3:15 of the second period for his team leading seventh goal of the season.
A pretty tic-tac-toe passing play gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead 11:28 into the second stanza. Frans Nielsen started the play and fed Kyle Okposo who hesitated before finding Michael Grabner in the slot for the redirection into an empty net.
“It was a great pass by Fransie to Okie and Okie waited out the defenseman and just found me open,” Grabner said. “It was easy to score.”
The lead lasted less than two minutes, however as Logan Couture scored his third goal of the season after the puck deflected to him in the slot. The score remained 2-2 until Burns scored the winner in overtime.
Isles Coach Jack Capuano understood why his team was frustrated by the loss. “That’s probably one of the best games we’ve played all year and didn’t come out with the win,” Capuano said. “You’ve got to take some positives out of it. I think tonight all four lines generated some offense our defense was outstanding and Ricky really gave us a chance to win the game, he played well.”
Capuano tried to emphasize the positives as his team picked up a point against a team that is widely considered a Stanley Cup contender. “I thought for three periods, we skated with them and did a lot of good things,” he said. “That’s what we have to take out of this game.”
The Islanders return to action Thursday night when they host the Winnipeg Jets. The Sharks conclude their lengthy road trip with a visit to Madison Square Garden Monday night when they take on the Rangers.
It was DiPietro’s first start of the season and his first since April 4th of last season against Philadelphia. DP did replace Evgeni Nabokov for the shootout in Thursday night’s shootout loss to the Penguins.
Prior to the game, the Isles honored their 1993 team which upset the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins and advance to the Conference Finals. Ten members of that team were on hand including Gary Nylund, Brad Delgarno, Claude Loiselle, Mick Vukota, Vladimir Malahkov, Benoit Hogue, Darius Kasparaitis, Patrick Flatley, Steve Thomas and Pierre Turgeon. Coach Al Arbour, who was unable to attend, delivered a message to his former players via the scoreboard.
Marty Reasoner won 14-of-17 faceoffs for the Islanders. Matt Martin led all players on the ice with seven hits.
Photos by Brandon Titus