Ted Nolan said it best after the game, noting that while the Islanders outshot the Capitals Monday, 31-12, they didn't have nearly that many quality chances. "Sometimes the shots aren't indicative of the play," Nolan said. "We really only had five or six good chances. The effort was there, but we had a couple of costly turnovers that went in."
Consider it a lesson learned on Kid's Opening Day, which brought with it much pomp, circumstance and energy. This was an eminently winnable game. Had the Islanders taken some more chances and taken it to the Capitals, and played smarter in the offensive zone, they could easily be 3-0. But they let Olaf Kolzig off easy. This was one of those games where you look at the scoreboard and realize, "This game is tied?" Because it felt as if the Islanders had the game in hand from the get-go.
That all changed midway through the third when Brooks Laich scored to give the Caps a 2-1 lead. The Islanders had some good changes in the final minutes but couldn't get the equalizer. New York was also 0-for-4 on the power play and failed to score on a 5-on-3 in the second period. On the plus side of the special teams ledger, the penalty kill was a perfect 6-for-6, continuing its outstanding start.
Richard Park scored the only goal for the Isles, marking the signing of his two-year contract extension in style.
So maybe this was a good loss, if there is such a thing. There will be no room for complacency Wednesday night when the Rangers come to Uniondale. Remarkably, tickets are still available. That link should only be used by Islanders fans, by the way.
Sadly, Sean Avery will not play as he is out 4-6 weeks with a separated shoulder, suffered in the loss to Ottawa on a hit by Chris Neil. And yes, the hit was clean.
Finally, best wishes go out to Jason Blake, who is reported to have a rare but treatable form of leukemia. The outlook is good, however, so here's hoping he has many more years in the NHL.