Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Jon Jordan on 12/23/10 at 02:54 AM ET
The Tampa Bay Lightning came into Wednesday night’s meeting with the New York Islanders with a chance to move into sole possession of first place in the NHL’s Southeast Division.
They left with an overtime loss to the league’s worst team, spoiling a second consecutive solid performance from goaltender Dan Ellis, who stopped 26 saves in defeat.
Dwayne Roloson stood out in goal for New York, turning aside 34 of 35 Lightning shots, John Tavares posted the game-winner and the Islander penalty killers were excellent, neutralizing Tampa Bay with the extra man on five of six opportunities.
After Ryan Malone’s power play marker opened the scoring in the first, the Bolts got two further chances with the man advantage in succession but were unable to convert. They left the ice after the first period with a 16-3 advantage in shots.
But the Islanders turned things around in the second, besting Tampa Bay in shots 10-9 (as they did identically in the third) and evening the score on a goal from P.A. Parenteau with 17 seconds remaining in the middle frame. That goal came from a sharp angle and those with a keen eye on the Lightning goaltending situation wouldn’t be wrong to criticize but Ellis’ overall game was good enough to push that aside and the fact that the Bolts couldn’t capitalize on such a lopsided first period shot total more than the one time they did should be looked at as the culprit in this one.
Of course, Roloson had a lot to do with that, turning in a performance indicative of his 2.67 goals-against average and .906 save percentage coming into the game. The win was just his third of the season but remember, these Isles have only prevailed seven times this year in total and have surrendered 30+ shots routinely.
Should Tampa Bay decide to look for help in the crease somewhere down the road, don’t be stunned if Roloson is a name that pops up, at least for consideration. The Islanders will surely be big-time sellers at the trade deadline and the 41-year-old Roloson is in the final year of a contract that comes with a cap hit of $2.5 million dollars. Not a bad insurance policy for a team that should contend for a playoff spot – (and not at all half-bad as a go-to option, even. It wasn’t all that long ago that Roloson led the Edmonton Oilers to a Stanley Cup Final appearance.) This was quite the first-person audition for the Isles netminder tonight, if that hypothetical scenario ever ends up presenting itself.
There will be some that scream of a horrible loss tonight for the Lightning and it is probably true, yes, that this Lightning team should beat a reeling Islanders squad on any given night. The same folks will also point out that New York dropped the Bolts in overtime earlier this season in Tampa as well. Still, as we’ve seen time and again, in this league, anything can happen.
That the Lightning managed a road point, despite the loss, however high the disappointment in the end result might be, shouldn’t be a point so easily forgotten.
Besides, the best remedy of all awaits – a game, oh, 20 or so hours from now in Manhattan against the Rangers.
And then… A little holiday rest…
It’s still a loooooong season, folks.
We hit the road tomorrow for Christmas festivities and, at this late hour, judging by the mountain of boxes and gifts and suitcases I’m staring at, what I had hoped to write in the morning is probably better off getting jammed in here or it might never get jammed in at all.
I simply wanted to quickly wish the best to all of the readers out there and the rest of the Kukla’s Korner family during the holiday season.
For me, while the childhood excitement for myself surrounding Christmas is long gone, I’m beyond lucky to have two beautiful children with which to share the season. My two-year-old is beyond excited for Christmas and already thinks Santa Claus is a rock star and my 3-month-old, well, he’s smiling at us now and that’s good enough for me.
I also get to look forward to spending time with my family; in particular, my wife, who gets all giddy this time of year and deserves all the spoiling she gets for putting up with me non-stop, and both of our uniquely whacky crews.
I think of family members that are no longer here, physically, to celebrate with us, starting with my younger brother, Michael, whose presence is always felt in the house I’ll always call home and my wife’s Uncle Steve, who was as memorable a figure as I’ve come across in my 31 years. We lost Mikey and Steve within months of each other in 2009 and, though the pain is still fresh, smiles and laughs take the place of that during this time of year more often than not.
In remembering those two, as well as many other friends and family now gone, I get now (go figure, from a movie chock-full of so very many truly loony moments) why Clark Griswold gets all misty-eyed when he discovers the old holiday home movies while stuck in the attic in the classic of all classics, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Seems like just yesterday, doesn’t it, that we all sat around a Christmas tree with our very own crazy families? We roll our eyes and mutter under our breaths at [insert whomever just popped into your head here] but we sure do miss them once they’re gone. We recall the magical feeling of being a kid during that holiday season and watching people get together (and, probably, to act a little nutty) as another year comes to an end. It was special and it will always be special. And, yeah, now I get it. (But I do not and will not ever get why ol’ Clark doesn’t just creep back down into the house for warmth and comfort after falling through the floorboards during that very same sequence!)
I also think of people who are away from their loved ones during the holidays – namely our servicemen and women out there and, personally, my good friend, Matt Johnston, a United States Marine serving our country right now somewhere in Afghanistan. To Matt, to his fellow Marines and to all that sacrifice this time of year and so much more of their precious time to protect what we all get to enjoy, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and, very simply, thank you.
(Oh, and Matty… We’re taking things back about 10 years when you get back, buddy. Cold ones on me, brother!!!)
To one and all, enjoy this special weekend and the special people that you’ll spend it with. And thank you for welcoming me here in my fledgling days at KK.
Big things on the horizon…
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org