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Islanders look home-sick

December 10, 2009

Scott Gordon's Isles have lost 4 of their last 5.

 Toronto’s Jason Blake knocked home a bouncing puck with less than 5 minutes remaining against his former team, and the Maple Leafs held on for a 3-2 victory on Wednesday night.  Despite John Tavares’ two power-play goals to tie the game in the third period, the Islanders headed back home to New York without a point. 

Goalie Dwayne Roloson was the star of the show last time in Toronto, making 58 saves en route to a 4-3 victory.   16 days removed from his miraculous performance against the Leafs,  he could not match his heroic effort from weeks prior.

The Islanders, who were plagued with first-period penalties during their last visit to Toronto, took two penalties in the first period and gave up two goals, including one power-play goal and one just a second after the penalty expired.

An ineffective Islanders penalty kill had difficulty containing the Leafs’ point men, who gave Toronto a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.The Islanders were a little unfortunate this time as Blake’s winning goal came when the puck hit fellow forward Mikhail Grabovski’s skate in the corner and squirted in front.

Francois Beauchemin and Ian White also had goals for Toronto (10-13-7).

The Leafs had a 2-0 lead heading into the third period, but with 1:39 of 5-on-3 time at the beginning of the third period, Okposo faked a shot and put the puck right on Tavares’ stick for an effortless goal at 1:32 that cut Toronto’s lead in half 2-1. 

The Islanders received another power-play opportunity at 11:48 after Jamal Mayers was whistled for boarding and once more Okposo found Tavares, who scored his second power-play goal of the night and 15th goal of the season at 11:54 to tie the game.

The 19-year-old man-child John Tavares, an Ontario native, has 15 goals in 31 games.

“It’s good to contribute, but at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter a whole lot,” Tavares said. “It’s too bad we weren’t able to at least get the point.”

Blake’s goal with less than five minutes to play, however, prevented the Islander from a pleasant flight home.

“It’s been such a constant,” Gordon said of the grueling trip. “I think we’re all kind of worn out. It’ll be nice to get back to some consistency in our lives, which we haven’t had lately.” 

The Maple Leafs, who started 0-7-1, are 6-2 since their loss to the Islanders last month, and have moved within five points of eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Islanders finished this 5 game trip at 1-4, and are just 5-7-2 in their last 14 games, 12 of which have come on the road.  New York will play 8 of their next 10 at the Coliseum, beginning with the Boston Bruins Saturday night.  Game time is 7:00 pm.

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