Is it actually possible to lose a game when you outshoot the opponent by a wide 26 shot margin as Ted Nolan's club did before a frustrated Coliseum announced crowd of less than 11,000? Can you blame fans here? It's got to be very exasperating, especially for my outstanding co-host at the NY Hockey Report Gary Harding who sits in Section 317 for every game and is a dedicated Booster Club member who is as passionate an Islander fan as there is.
He bleeds orange and dark blue. Something tells me he won't be too pleased on our show tomorrow night despite a special guest. And I'd put good money that host Joe McDonald shows and ruffles feathers.
As a diehard Ranger fan who goes to about 25 home games, there's certainly no love lost for the Fishsticks. However, I have a lot of respect for Gary and the feeling is definitely mutual. We support our teams and sometimes to a fault live and die with them. Considering how the Rangers were going before their solid 4-0 shutout of Pittsburgh last night, I can certainly understand how Mr. Harding feels.
Being a fan can sometimes be tough, especially when your team isn't winning much or playing up to expectations.
But getting just one goal from out of all sources scrappy veteran defenseman Brendan Witt early in the third to tie Buffalo only to have their hearts ripped out when Maxim Afinogenov one-timed a power play goal from the right wing past a sprawled out Rick DiPietro with 2:17 to go had to feel like eternal hell. And I don't mean the Kool Aid Lou Lamoriello continues to use to magical proportions with the Devils.
Here were the SOG totals in each period:
1 2 3 Total
Sabres 5 7 5 17
Isles 14 13 16 43
Islander D Freddy Meyer's high sticking minor led to Afinogenov's deciding marker. I hope and pray it was a legit call and that the officials didn't throw them a brownie by sending Thomas Vanek off for hooking with only 34 ticks to go.
"We did everything but score," frustrated Islanders captain Bill Guerin pointed out to the AP afterwards. "We have the hard work part down, but it's still a loss."
Word. I mean it's just another lost opportunity and two points out the window which Guerin's club could really use as they remain at 32 points sitting in last place and 12th in the conference behind Philly, Toronto, Pittsburgh and Florida who were all idle.
"We played the game we wanted to play. We played smart," DiPietro said. "Buffalo's bread and butter is their power play. You don't want to get to the box too many times. Unfortunately it ended up costing us at the end."
Ultimately, the difference was Buffalo netminder Ryan Miller who finished with 42 saves in stealing a road victory for the Sabres' fourth consecutive win which puts them up to 35 points suddenly sitting in seventh.
"You get a few shots, and you start to feel more comfortable out there,"
Miller noted. "The goal that got by, I was putting up my glove in a defensive
position, and I didn't see the puck until it was too late."
Remember when they looked dead? Apparently, my best friend Brian and myself wrote them off too soon.
What a weird conference. Totally unpredictable.
Note: The Islanders' 72 goals rank dead last.
Somebody get them some help cause they need it if they're to turn their season around.