Lars Eller was named the third star of the game with his goal and two assists, and it was good to see the young man get back on track. Brendan Gallagher, the second star, had a goal and an assist, the latter on a play which showed great hustle on his part and created the clinching goal scored by Alex Galchenyuk. Alex netted a goal and added two assists, and was the game's first star. So, nice work there boys, keep it up.
I was distracted with NFL-ian matters, but I think I noticed a couple of the current whipping boys contribute to this win. Douglas Murray was a big presence in our zone and cooled some tempers when the Islanders' fourth-liners were out for mayhem. And Raphaël Diaz, finally, chipped in on offence, setting up Michaël Bournival's deflection goal on the power play with a nice low slap shot. Mr. Diaz has to bring offence, and revive the second wave of the powerplay, it can't just be P.K. and Andrei for 90 seconds and then we punt it away. That's how he can earn his keep and a contract extension for next season.
We saw Michaël Bournival back with Tomas and Brian Gionta at times, which I think is a good idea, that trio was on fire earlier. It's not a failed experiment, we'd need a larger sample size, but right now Max on their left wing doesn't seem to work, they're not meshing. So let's put the kid's great wheels back on Tomas' left, and plunk Max in with René Bourque, and see if that resuscitates David Desharnais. And if it doesn't, then let's give Daniel Brière a go between the two big wingers.
Marc Denis repeated tonight that René prefers playing right wing, his off-wing, and we saw him pull a nice move on a breakaway coming down that side. With the left winger penury seemingly over, now that Alex and Michaël slot in on that side, and Brandon Prust and Travis Moen also available on top of Max, let's see what René can do on right wing. As noted previously, his 27-goal seasons in Calgary were while he was playing on the right side. We're in a good position to give it a try.
Carey made a couple of spectacular saves, and again did his job stopping 24 of 26 shots he had to face. His save percentage ticked down one point to .929, still among the league leaders. I noticed him mishandling the puck on a couple of occasions, but these stand out because he's usually so effortless and efficient with the puck. Whereas the great goalies of my youth Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy made venturing out of their nets a heartstopping adventure, Carey at least has that on them, he's almost like a third defenceman out there. He skates with ease, corrals the puck and puts it on our d-men's blade before the forecheckers get there.
Travis Moen had to leave the game due to flu symptoms, which might be a blessing in disguise, he can't feel too comfortable playing his role with a fractured facial bone still mending.
With Daniel Brière's and Alexei Emelin's return to the lineup just around the corner, and Brandon Prust out for just a short while longer, the infirmary is clearing out, and the team's depth returning. It was good to have the Hamilton kids up for short stints, but we'll be better off with most of our players back and a return to routine and normalcy. And it won't hurt to have the fringe forwards and defencemen competing with each other for playing time.