Tampa Bay Lightning Defeat the Islanders in a SO: A Text Message Exchange Between Myself and My Isles' Fan Best Friend

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It appears that if you wanted to see a guaranteed shootout in the National Hockey League, you can’t do wrong by watching the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders square off against each other.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The two teams just completed a three-game season series last night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum where all three games went to a shootout.  The first coming on Dec. 17 at the Coliseum where the Bolts proved victorious with a 3-2 SO win.  On Jan. 16 the result was flipped with a 2-1 SO win for the Islanders on the road.

Then last night happened.  And boy was it a doozy of a shootout.  Did you really expect anything less from these two teams?

New York may be playing for paychecks right now more so than the playoffs, but they’re still a dangerous, fast team, stacked with young talent, and as the previous two games have proven:  a team that can push the Lightning to the brink if they want to win.

This particular shootout took thirteen rounds to be decided (the longest SO in the NHL this season).  Sami Salo ultimately decided the game with a backhanded goal, top shelf past New York’s elder statesman, Evgeni Nabokov, and Ben Bishop‘s stop of rookie Johan Sundstrom directly afterwards clinched the 3-2 SO win.

Here’s the shootout in its entirety.

Before I move on, lets have a moment of reverence for that filthy spin-o-rama goal by Steven Stamkos in the SO one more time (never enough times).  Stamkos, despite his acumen on the ice as a pure goal scorer, has had a bit of trouble with the shootout over the length of his young career.  But last night he was at his filthiest and scored a much needed goal during the seventh round.

And one more thing, finally, before I move on, a fond drumming of sticks to Ryan Callahan and his two point night (2 goals, +2 rating with 5 hits and 3 steals; nabbing the first star).  You got to love the new dynamic of play he brings to the Lightning’s table, none more evident than last night; his best game in a blue jersey so far.

Marty who, you might say?

Anyways, here is where I get to the meat of this article (or at least the fun experimental side of it).  I had this idea and thought it would be an interesting concept for a column.  Something a little new and outside the box, which honestly, I try and do as often as I can, when it comes to Off the Dot.  That’s mostly why I call it that.

I’ve mentioned my Islanders’ fan best friend (his name is Jimmy) in two other articles I’ve written for this page.  Basically the first two Isles games this season included mention of him.  Now to complete my trilogy of sorts – I give you our humorous, and sometimes awkward, text messages exchanged during that rather entertaining, while still nail-bitingly close, shootout game between the Islanders and your Tampa Bay Lightning.

We begin with early pleasantries and good humor during the pregame.

Jimmy: Lets Go Isles hahaha.  Only tonight.

ME: Lets go Bolts! haha I know right?  This could be another rough one for the two of us.  The Isles got nothing to lose but still can screw up my Bolts’ playoff run.

You see?  He’s also a Bolts fan, but not when the Isles play them.  He’s from Long Island.  The Isles are his childhood team.

Jimmy:  No one is there.

ME:  We almost went to this game, too.

Jimmy:  I know.  I wanted to but it didn’t fall into place.  Palat is looking good.

ME:  Oh, hell yeah.  Palat is having a great year.  Him and Johnson.  It’s really between those two and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon (who’s amazing) for the Calder.  Coop’s good for a Jack Adams.  And Bish is good for a Vezina.  I think, but I’m bias of course.  Can’t complain about a season like that, not at all.

Jimmy:  Nah man. Not at all.

Game starts.

ME:  Here we go, bro.  Game time!  I’m already scared.

A missed opportunity by the Bolts to convert a goal.

ME:  That rebound was there for the goal.  Isles playing fast.

Jimmy:  Matt Martin leads the league in hits. “The Islanders count hits different than everyone else”  Redacted that guy.

Jimmy is referring to some hockey troll on a webpage we read who was discrediting the way officials award hits at the Coliseum for some reason; ultimately, discrediting Matt Martin’s status as the league-leader in hits.  Suggesting that the Isles are getting some sort of allowance and couldn’t possibly be good at anything.  It really grinds his gears.

ME:  Just a hockey troll who doesn’t want to give the Isles any credit.  Or a Rangers fan.

Jimmy:  Despite the scrubs and rookies the Isles have thrown out there the past two weeks, they look decent.

ME:  Yes they do.  I’ve caught a few Isles games of late (Gamecenter Live app) and read some articles on them recently.  They’ve been playing good hockey over the past few weeks.  That’s why this game made me so nervous.  I knew (and have all along really) that the Isles are no pushover team.  They’re still very dangerous.

Jimmy:  It’s 75% of the Bridgeport team. hahaha  All played together.

ME:  Almost like TB with the Syracuse players.  Tampacuse.

Jimmy:  It sucks Okposo is hurt.  Nice.  I see what you did there.

ME:  I can’t take credit for it.  Someone on another Lightning site coined the phrase.  I think.  It has its own hashtag now on Twitter.

Jimmy:  It’s Twitter official.

ME:  That makes it real life.

Jimmy:  Clutterbuck has been putting up points recently.

ME:  It’s the 70’s facial hair he rocks so well.

Jimmy:  Isles are stealing everything.  Sloppy Tampa.

ME:  I saw that.  You get used to that sloppy style of defense when watching TB.  Believe it or not, the D is actually way better than last season, in my opinion.  Still got some kinks to work out though.

Jimmy:  It’s funny.  The Isles are pretty much doing an open tryout at this point for next season.  With Tavares and Okposo, along with these guys, and a few free agents, they might not be so bad next year.

ME:  Radko (who just gave away the puck at this point) is still a rookie though, and you have to realize that sometimes.  The old adage (as I’ve heard it said) is that it takes 300 games to make a quality NHL defenseman. He makes mostly good stuff happen on the ice, and he’s cleaned up a lot of his junk penalties he used to get constantly.  But sometimes he just gets robbed of the puck, and it sucks.  But that’s how it goes for young D-Men.  Got to learn the ropes.

Jimmy:  Isles look fired up tonight.

ME:  Knew they would be.  These two teams play each other well.

Tyler Johnson gets physical fighting for a puck in front of the net.

ME:  Johnson has gotten way more physical with his play as the season has progressed.

Jimmy:  Has he?

ME:  But he’s still small like Marty.

Lightning come at the Isles with a surge.

ME:  Lightning with the mad pressure.  And the mad zone time.

Jimmy:  Yeah, no crap.  They have been playing on the boards a ton.

ME:  The Isles are playing like I expected they would and the Bolts, so far, are playing like I hoped they would.  Still early though.

A bunch of redacted phrases as close calls ensued.

Jimmy:  Redacted.

ME:  Redacted.

Jimmy:  I thought that was in.

ME:  Lost his angle.  Otherwise that was a goal.  That was a very fast first period.

Jimmy:  Isles don’t set up plays very well.

ME:  Bolts have been good at disrupting them, so far.  Actually, now that I see the replay, Kucherov just missed that opportunity.  He had time and net to work with, just missed it.

Jimmy:  Looked like it.  Hit Nabby.  He got a piece of it, I think.

Slo-mo replay.

Jimmy:  It did hit Nabby.

ME:  Yeah, I just saw that.  Didn’t get the puck elevated enough.

Later, in the second period.  A good offensive opportunity by the Islanders.

ME:  That was a good pass.  Almost a good Isles set up right there.

Jimmy:  Yeah, I know.

ME:  So fast.  Two good teams playing each other.

Jimmy:  Neither of us are mad yet!

ME:  No we’re not!

The iciness begins to set in with our false exclamation points.  The fun and games are soon to end.  Cold reality slowly seeps through the friendly hockey banter, settling into the back of our highly competitive hockey brains:  We both want our teams to win and things are about to get rough.

Jimmy:  We both know the Isles can take it in a shootout if it comes to that.

ME:  Oh, I know.  The Bolts have seriously struggled of late past regulation, especially in the shootout.  Not as good as the first half of the season anyway.  It’s been rough.  I might have to throw up my hands if we go to a SO.

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