Sunday, March 20, 2011

NYI Weekend Recap: Rick DiPietro Solid in Fla, Islanders Get 3 out of 4 Points

Overall, you'd have to say the New York Islanders had a pretty decent showing on back-to-back nights, dropping a tight game to Carolina in overtime and then, knocking out the Florida Panthers in a shootout.

Michael Grabner's been having a lot of fun during the team's road trip down south, having scored two goals and two assists in his past two games. He became the Isles' second 30-goal scorer this season and extended his rookie goal-scoring lead even further.

Grabner scored a shorthanded marker in Florida that surely made Panthers GM Dale Tallon sick to his stomach.

He first poked the puck loose, then sent a feed to Frans Nielsen, only to burst ahead up the ice, where Nielsen was waiting to give him the puck. The pass was tape-to-tape and Grabner made no mistake, ripping a shot past Scott Clemensen to give New York the 1-0 lead.

While blowing a lead is never a good thing, I think we can at least take some pride in knowing that earlier in the season, that game against the Hurricanes would have never gone to overtime because the Islanders would have lost long before regulation ended.

Give them credit for bouncing back the very next night, playing against a Florida Panthers team with absolutely nothing to lose.

Despite letting the Cats back in the game a couple of times, New York always kept the score close, never letting the contest get out of hand.

Rick DiPietro (and his mask) was pretty solid in his return, stopping 29 shots and making saves when he needed to.

I think he'd like to have Stephen Weiss's goal back, but other than that, there really isn't much to complain about.

He looked sharp during the shootout, stopping both Panther attempts and helping the Isles seal the victory in Sunrise.

Of course, I don't want to leave out Jack Hillen. He's been joining the offensive rush more and more each game and it paid off against the Panthers.

The biggest question now is, who starts against Tampa Bay?

Should the Islanders go with DiPietro and risk a shaky performance turning into a blowout, or should Al Montoya, the stabilizing force in net for this team, get the nod?

We'll find out soon enough, but if the Isles can get more encore performances like last night's from Rick, the team might have quite the goaltending tandem.

Remember, having to decide between two strong netminders is a good problem for any team to have, the New York Islanders being no exception.

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