Late rally cut short

Forward John Tavares made a big impact all night, but was sent to box for questionable call at most inopportune time as Isles lost to Leafs 5-3

Friday, 12.23.2011 / 10:57 PM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
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Late rally cut short
The Islanders dropped their second straight, falling to the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 at Nassau Coliseum on Friday night. But it wasn’t without a fight.

After falling behind 3-0 in the opening 11:15 of action, the home team fought back with inspired play and goals from Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and John Tavares. Tavares’ goal put the Isles within one with 9:30 remaining in regulation, inspiring the Islanders to amp up their pressure in the offensive zone even more.

James Reimer makes a save off of John Tavares at Nassau Coliseum on December 23, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
But with 3:01 remaining in regulation, with the Isles down by just one goal, Tavares was whistled for a diving penalty during in the Isles most dire stretch. The building rocked with dismay, as fans voiced their disapproval for the call. An empty-net goal sealed the Isles fate.

Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano waited until the post game press conference to voice his opinions.

“I normally don’t say too much about the officiating, but Johnny is not the type of player that’s going to dive at all,” Capuano said. “He plays with his heart on his sleeve. He works extremely hard. He takes a lot of pride and after watching the replay, it’s clearly a high stick.”

Replays showed Tavares going down after being cross-checked in front of the Isles bench by Joffrey Lupul. Both players were sent to the box for two minutes.

That point in the game was critical for the Isles, who were looking to close out a 3-in-4 heading into the holiday break.

“It takes your best player off the ice, that’s what it does,” Capuano said, showing his displeasure. “We had an opportunity late. We had that timeout. We knew what we were going to do 6-on-5, we were trying to get a whistle to use our timeout, but again, especially 4-on-4, to have 91 (Tavares) in the box is tough.”

Luke Schenn pokes the puck away from John Tavares at Nassau Coliseum on December 23, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
Tavares didn’t like the call.

“I have a lot of respect for the officials in the league,” Tavares said. “They have a hell of a tough job. It’s a tough game to officiate. A lot of things are bang-bang out there, but I thought it was pretty blatant. I really don’t think the officials are taking sides for what cities, what franchises they are; I just didn’t like the call.”

Assistant Captain Kyle Okposo shared in Tavares’ disbelief.

“He got cross-checked in the head and went down to the ice,” Okposo said. “It’s not a dive. I don’t agree with it. I know it’s tough for the refs sometimes and they have to make judgment calls, but that was not a dive.”

Lupul would score the empty net goal, providing the final margin.

“We can’t have poor starts like that,” Okposo said. “Getting down 3-0 early there, it doesn’t help. We showed some heart battling back, but we need points right now.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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