Now THIS is change we can believe in.
Just 24 hours after winning in overtime at home and avoiding another blown three-goal lead, facing the division- and conference-leading Rangers at the Garden, the New York Islanders proved Tuesday night that they can weather a hell of a storm without Rick DiPietro, and came away with a 2-1 victory that gave them a small winning streak and a ton of hope that, maybe, things are actually looking up.
Credit Joey MacDonald for coming up huge while the Rangers swarmed him like he was Marisa Miller at a frat party. MacDonald was so busy in the first two periods that Scott Gordon called a timeout with seven minutes left in the second just to "give him a blow," with the Rangers at that point holding a 25-9 advantage in shots on goal.
Credit also the penalty kill, which incredibly scored both Islanders goals. Nate Thompson converted a 2-on-1 with Franz Nielsen, breaking a scoreless tie early in the third period, and after a classic "let's give the home team a chance to get even" penalty on Brett Skinner, Richard Park stole a weak cross-ice pass by Michal Rozsival and scored on a breakaway, beating a rusty Henrik Lundquist.
MacDonald missed getting his shutout in the final two minutes, but no matter. With DiPietro out for a month or so, MacDonald is proving to be more than capable in the pipes.
And maybe his performance is helping fuel the growing confidence that the Islanders have shown in the last week. Sure, they lost in overtime in Philly and blew a three-goal, third-period lead at home to the Canadiens, but players and Gordon insisted that progress was being made. Against the Bluejackets and Rangers, they've provided tangible evidence instead of just hopeful quotes.
The victory over the Rangers also proved that the Islanders don't have to play their system to perfection to win, even against a top team like the Rangers. They have a goaltender they can be confident in, one that can keep them in games where the system isn't working. And they have players like Park who make things happen with smarts and hard work.
America saw a new day dawn with Obama's victory Tuesday. Is it morning for the Islanders as well?