The Red Wings and Islanders game was setup to be a very competitive afternoon game at the Joe. The crowd got into the game early, and the scoring started early as well, with Tomas Tatar scoring on a very nice shot from goalie Chad Johnson's right side on the Powerplay to make the game 1-0 Red Wings, as well as give him a team leading 22nd goal on the season.
The Red Wings ended the second period up 2-0 after Bredan Smith got a safety net goal for the Red Wings in the second. After Mrazek allowed a goal to Lubomir Visnovsky on the Powerplay early in the third period, Ericsson gave the Red Wings a 3-1 lead, and Nyquist made sure the Red Wings kept up their intensity until the final buzzer sounded, scoring another goal on the Powerplay. Three of the five goals scored in the game were on the Powerplay, as there were many penalties called against both sides.
Islanders All-Star goaltender Jaroslav Halak had the day off, while Chad Johnson started for the New York Islanders. He gave up four goals on nineteen shots, while Petr Mrazek had a solid bounce back game for the Red Wings. He only allowed one goal on 23 shots, including saving all 16 shots during even strength and making many solid plays in net that saved his team goals. One of those plays was when an Islanders player had what appeared to be a wide open breakaway with nobody near him. However, Mrazek came out past the faceoff circle to tip the puck just past the Islanders player before he could get to it, saving a sure scoring chance during a key moment in the game.
Both teams were quite physical, and many players got banged up slightly throughout the course of the game. Johnny Boychuck took a puck to his left ear while sitting on the bench and got checked multiple times against the boards. Henrik Zetterburg also took a beating this game for the Red Wings, including going without a visor on the bench for a portion of the game.
The Red Wings next game figures to be a good matchup versus the big rival Colorado Avalanche in Colorado. The rivalry game always seems to be quite fun and should be a very entertaining match on Thursday. The Red Wings head into the match with a winning streak dating back to January 13th, winning seven of their last eight. Their only loss in the span was to the Lightning in their last game.
The Islanders next game is at home versus the Florida Panthers where the Islanders look to get back on track and try to hold off the Red Wings, Lightning, and Canadiens from getting the number one seed in the East, as well as the Penguins, Rangers and Capitals, who are quickly gaining points from taking their spot atop the Metropolitan division.
These two teams meet one more time on Sunday March 29th, in what could be a possible second or third round playoff preview if they can figure out how to get past the first round of the playoffs again. The Islanders have a physical team with Clutterbuck and Martin who both have over 200 hits this season, while the Red Wings rely on finesse and skill players such as Datsyuk, Tatar and Nyquist to guide them.
The key to success in the next game for the Islanders is to get Taveras more than three shots in 20 minutes on the ice, what he posted today. The Red Wings key to success is to take less penalties, as they gave up their only goal on the penalty kill which has struggled all of January, while continue to get the puck to the hot hands, which are Tatar and Nyquist (and likely will be next time when they meet in New York as well).