11 January 2012
Uniondale, NY -- The Islanders dominance over the Detroit Red Wings continued Tuesday night. They defeated Detroit 5-1 with two goals from Matt Moulson as well as goals from John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner.
“Well I think with and without the puck it was a good game for us,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said after the game. “We tracked the puck hard and we had good sticks. I thought defensively we were sound. They’re a good team that gets extended zonetime, we knew they would get their chances, but I really liked our battle level tonight. I thought we elevated our battle level defensively and it was a good group effort tonight.”
The Islander defense maintained the Red Wings to the outside, even though Detroit managed to garner several chances, the Islanders managed to clear the shoot and passing lanes and clear away any rebounds in front of the net.
“I thought our D did a good job containing on the outside and letting [Nabokov] see the pucks from the outside,” Capuano added. “Tonight if you look at the game plan we executed in a lot of areas and that was the key for us tonight, our execution.”
The Islanders started off the scoring late in the first period on a power play opportunity. Brad Stuart took was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and roughing penalty at the 17:59 mark. Matt Moulson attempted to pass to John Tavares, who was streaking towards the net, and instead caught the skate blade of a Red Wings defender and ended up in the net.
John Tavares added to the Islanders lead in the second period midway through. Kyle Okposo left a drop pass for Tavares, who made his way towards the net, and fired a shot from near the left hand face off circle and past Red Wing’s goaltender Ty Conklin. Nearly four minutes later Tavares and Okposo capitalized on a odd man rush. Tavares made a quick pass to Okposo, who scored to make it 3-0. Michael Grabner added one more goal near the end of the period. He scored on a breakaway opportunity at the 18:32 mark of the period giving the Islanders the four goal advantage.
Justin Abdelkader scored less than three minutes into the third to cut the Islanders lead to 4-1, but that would be the only goal of the night for the Red Wings. Matt Moulson added a fifth goal for the Islanders, his second of the game, to seal the win.
Evgeni Nabokov, who made 23 saves in the win, knows how challenging it is to play against the Red Wings. Nabokov remembers playing against them during his days as a member of the Sharks organization.
“It’s never easy to play Detroit,” Nabokov commented. “They know how to win, they know how to prepare themselves and I don’t think I ever had an off night with those guys. It’s always been a battle; it’s always been if they’re tired they always bring something to the table. The depth of the team has always been good.”
Detroit has not faired too well against the Islanders. The Islanders have had the upper hand, going 6-0-1 in their last seven meetings, though there isn’t a clear reason why this advantage has existed.
“I don’t know what it is,” Kyle Okposo, who scored a goal in the win. “Maybe we get pumped up to play them a little more, I don’t know, but we seem to have some success. It’s been different every year since I’ve been here. A couple years our goalie stands on his head, a couple times we play really well and we’re able to capitalize on our chances. Tonight we had an all around team game.”
Moulson, who scored his team leading 20th goal, believes it may be all in the timing.
“I think sometimes we catch them coming off some road trips,” he said. “It’s good timing, but for some odd reason we seem to play really well against them and they’re good team. But we executed our system tonight.”
Tavares that the team notices the challenge the Red Wings pose and step up their play to get the win.
“We only see them once or maybe twice a year and we know we have to raise our game,” Tavares said after the game. “We play at our best to compete with them and to give ourselves a good chance. We played them hard, we knew they’re playing three in four nights and tried to jump on them and hopefully wear them out.”
Whatever the case may be, the Islanders will look to find that magic, they had against the Red Wings, when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday night. A team that has had the Islanders number over the last few seasons.
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