The frustration level continues to grow for the New York Islanders. Clark MacArthur’s second goal of the game came at 2:06 of overtime to help lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-3 victory over the Islanders and a sweep in the home-and-home series between the teams.
The Isles were hoping to get four points against the Leafs to get back into the thick of the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference but picked up just one point in the two games while Toronto added four. As the Isles enter the All Star break, they trail the eighth place New Jersey Devils by 10 points in the race for the final playoff spot.
Tonight was particularly frustrating for the Isles because for the second consecutive game against Toronto, the Isles were not awarded any power plays.
“To go two games without a penalty?” Isles forward Josh Bailey said. “I don’t care how disciplined a team is, there’s no way there are no penalties taken in two games. It’s baffling. It’s disheartening. We’re pretty pissed off about it.”
Throughout the game, the Islanders felt there were several missed calls including an incident at the end of the second period that saw Toronto’s Phil Kessel hit John Tavares across the face with his stick just as the buzzer sounded. Tavares was particularly frustrated by the lack of a call.
“I don’t really understand it,” Tavares said, trying to avoid saying anything that would get him fined. “I just shook my head at that. I was pretty heated, actually. I thought he [the official] was there, I thought he saw it. It just doesn’t make a while lot of sense…We’ve got to stay focused on the task at hand and not let it get to us.”
The Islanders had a 2-0 lead in the game on an early goal by Tavares, his 20th of the year, and a shorthanded goal by Bailey who finished a 2-on-1 off a pass set up by a hustling play by Matt Martin midway through the second period.
Toronto bounced back with a goal by MacArthur with just 1:05 left in the second period, which seemed to give the Leafs a lift, and a goal by defenseman Jake Gardiner who let a rifle shot go from the p0int that beat a screened Al Montoya on the play just 1:47 into the third period.
Mikhail Grabovski scored a fluke goal to put the Leafs ahead 3-2 with just 3:31 left in regulation time. His shot hit the stick of an Islanders defenseman, knuckled in the air and bounced in off the arm of Montoya when he tried to bat it down. Grabovski was in on all four scoring plays for the Maple Leafs and finished the game with a goal and three assists.
The Islanders got a lucky bounce of their own to tie the game with just 12.2 seconds left. Grabovski tried to clear the puck out of the Leafs zone along the far boards but it took a funny hop and came right to P.A. Parenteau right between the circles. Parenteau hit the bouncing puck and beat Jonas Gustavsson to even the score at 3-3 and send the game into overtime.
“I saw the bounce coming my way when I went to forecheck,” Parenteau said. “It was a lucky bounce but so was their go-ahead goal so we’ll take it.”
The Isles had some quality scoring chances in overtime but lost the game when MacArthur put away a 2-on-1 after a nice give and go pass with Grabovski. Montoya managed to catch the puck in his glove but not before both the glove and the puck were behind the goal line.
“I knew it went in,” Montoya admitted. It was his first start in nearly a month after missing time with a concussion. “It was an odd game for me. I felt pretty good after a month off. It seemed like every goal that went in, there was a bounce on their side.”
The Islanders will return to action after the All Star break on January 31 when they travel to Raleigh to face the Carolina Hurricanes. The Maple Leafs will be in Pittsburgh that same night to face the Penguins.
Comedian Mike Myers was in attendance wearing his Leafs jersey.
The Islanders wore their road white jerseys at home tonight after wearing their blue sweaters last night in Toronto.
Tonight was the 30th anniversary of Mike Bossy’s 50 goals in 50 games which happened on January 24, 1982 against the Quebec Nordiques. Bossy was also in attendance and got a warm ovation from the fans.