The Islanders proved how much they have grown in recent years by defeating the Toronto Maple Leads 3-2. The Islanders jumped out early but the pesky Leafs battled hard.
After the Maple Leafs interim head coach Peter Horacek questioned the team’s emotion publicly following their most recent loss to the Rangers, the Islanders got the start they were looking for. Anders Lee took the puck from often-criticized Leafs defenseman Cody Franson, and stuffed it past Jonathan Bernier.
Less than three minutes after Lee’s goal the fourth line provided offense once again. Colin McDonald went hard to the net and Casey Cizikas put home the loose rebound to make it 2-0 Isles.
“You want to come out hard.” Cal Clutterbuck said after missing the previous two games. “You want teams to know that when they come here we are going to come out hard. Obviously it gives us confidence but we can still get better at keeping up the pace and doing the right things when we have that lead.”
The Leafs showed a sense of pride, and tied the game up early in the second period; forcing Islanders head coach Jack Capuano to call a timeout.
“We called that timeout and it was a smart timeout,” Thomas Hickey explained. “But at the same time we understand in here it’s a long game. We have done a good job of understanding it’s a process, no need to evaluate ourselves after a couple good or bad stretches. Do not squeeze your stick because of a few bad ones, and we have done a really good job of that for a long time now. We are big boys in here.”
Hickey’s comments highlight the transformation of this locker room. In previous years the team might not have been able to respond, but as has been said before, this is a different team.
Anders Lee found himself parked in front of the net and buried a rebound for his second goal of the game.
“Anders is playing great,” captain John Tavares said about his fellow line mate. “He is doing what he does best, being around the net. Its great to see him contribute, he has really been doing that for us all year.”
Jaroslav Halak also reached a personal milestone, earning his 30th victory of the season, a career high for the Slovakian net minder.
“If you talk to him, he will credit the team,” Jack Capuano said following another one goal win for the team. “When you work hard good things will happen. He has come to the rink everyday with that purpose and the results are showing.”
The Islanders have started this mini home stand on the right foot winning the first two but the challenges will continue to come. Next up they face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Valentines Day at the Coliseum.
By: Scott Charles
WLIE 540 AM SPORTSTALKNY Staff Writer
Islanders Insight Senior Editor
Follow us on Twitter @sportstalkny and @Scottmcharles
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