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Saturday, March 5, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Isles 5, Blues 2

By Doug Mittler

WHAT IT MEANS: A 5-2 victory over the free-falling St. Louis Blues continued the Islanders’ rise to respectability under coach Jack Capuano. The Islanders improved to .500 for the first time under Capuano (21-21-6), who replaced the fired Scott Gordon in mid-November. That includes a 20-14-4 mark in the last 38 games.

BACK-TO-BACK FOR MAC: After scoring just one goal in his first 49 games, Isles defenseman Andrew MacDonald (not to be confused with the Blues’ Andy McDonald) has three goals in his last two games.

MacDonald’s slapper from just inside the blue line beat Ben Bishop at 12:43 of the second to make it 3-0. His second tally came early in the third on a wrister from the left circle. The Islanders tried to set MacDonald up for a hat trick in the final minute, but to no avail.

TAVARES AHEAD OF THE PACE: John Tavares opened the scoring with a pretty move, skating around a defender and putting a backhander past Bishop at 9:12 of the first. The second-year center added an assist and has 55 points in 53 games, surpassing his total for all of last season (54 in 82 contests).

REDEMPTION FOR PARENTEAU: P.A. Parenteau missed a golden scoring opportunity five minutes into the game when Bishop came way out of the net as the forward skated down the right side. Parenteau easily went around the fallen goalie, but missed a shot at a wide-open net when he could have just skated in and stuffed the puck into the goal.

Parenteau redeemed himself minutes later with an assist on a goal by Tavares and later directed in a cross-ice pass from Michael Grabner to make it 2-0 at the first intermission. It was the 15th goal of the season for Parenteau, but his first in 11 games.

YOU CAN CALL ME AL: Al Montoya, this sixth different goalie to start for the Islanders this season, stopped 21 shots to improve to 5-2-1 since being acquired in a deal from Phoenix in early February. He blanked the Blues for two periods before Andy McDonald and Chris Stewart scored in the third.

OFFER TO CHECKETTS?: The Blues’ ownership situation may have taken another turn Saturday with a report in the Post-Dispatch that an offer has been made from a minority owner to purchase the team outright from Dave Checketts. St. Louis businessman Tom Stillman, who is already a minority owner, reportedly is part of a group that presented a formal bid to Checketts' company, SCP Worldwide.

NOTES: The Blues have fallen out of any realistic playoff contention by losing for the eighth time in nine games ... Graber gave another example of his blazing speed in the third, bolting around Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo before scoring on a wrister for his 26th of the season and first in nine games ... Saturday marked the Islanders’ final game of the season against the Western Conference. They had a winning record against the West for the second straight season (8-5-5).

UP NEXT: The Isles began a stretch of three games in four days, all of them at Nassau Coliseum. They host the Devils on Sunday afternoon and the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.

Doug Mittler is a researcher/reporter for ESPN The Magazine.