ISLANDERS 4, BRUINS 3 (OT)
With the focus coming into the game on the Islanders' new first line, it was the grinders who finished off Boston, as Shawn Bates' OT wrister downed his former squad. Fellow Massachusetts native Garth Snow stopped 29 shots for his second win of the year.
In OT, Joe Thornton tried to put it away early, rushing up ice to put a quality chance on Snow, but was turned away, allowing Miroslav Satan an opportunity to end the game. Skating hard at Hannu Toivonen, he pulled up and spun, but couldn't get his hard slapshot past the rookie netminder. With 28 seconds left before a shootout, Alexei Zhitnik pushed the puck up out of the Isles' zone to Jason Blake, who turned and led Bates into the Bruins' zone with a feather pass. Bates picked up the puck, outskated two pursuers and deposited the puck low to the left side of the net. It was a bit of redemption for the center, who had mishandled an open breakaway pass in the third.
The Islanders' new top line of Alexei Yashin, Miroslav Satan and Oleg Kvasha wasted no time in making its presence felt in the first. Keeping the puck moving in front of the net, Yashin found Niinimaa at the point for a long-drive on goal. The shot was blocked, but found its way off several skates to Satan's stick. A cross-slot dump set up Kvasha, who wired a precision wrister under the crossbar, past Toivonen, for his first tally of the season.
Halfway through the first, Robert Nilsson flashed more of the talent that helped his score his first NHL Saturday night. Picking up the puck in the right corner of the B's end of the ice, he dipsy-doodled around two Bruins to the point, and ripped a shot on net. The rebound had daylight, but Parrish was handcuffed and couldn't put it away.
More fancy skating paid off minutes later though, as Yashin put on a one-man show. Skating into the offensive zone, the captain drew four Bruins to him, and with a nice cut across the rink, he opened up space to feed the puck to Niinimaa. A flick of the wrists by the Finn and it was past his fellow countryman for a two-goal lead and his first goal this year.
The Bruins may have lulled the locals to sleep with a lack of attack in the first, but a quick turnaround cut the Isles' lead to one. P.J. Axelsson's forecheck on Brad Lukowich low in the Islanders' zone forced a turnover that was moved down the boards quickly to Shawn McEachern, who sent a rapid pass to the slot, where Dave Scatchard was waiting to bang it home past Garth Snow for his third goal on the season.
Turning their offensive slump around at the end of the first, the Bruins kept the pressure on to start the second, taking the first five shots of the period. The play settled into a steady, if quiet flow, punctuated by a stoppage in play to fix a problem with the boards to the left of Toivonen's goal.
Getting back to the action, Joe Thornton won a clean draw in the Islanders' zone, passing to a waiting Nick Boynton at the blueline. Using the hulking Thornton as a screen, Boynton blasted the puck past Snow to tie the game. Winning 76-percent at the dot, with near perfection in their own zone, helped the Bruins keep the Islanders from taking back control of the game.
The late stages of the period saw some increased pace, with the Bruins' picking up a powerplay that put the Islanders seriously on the defensive. With the Bruins holding a 6-4 man-advantage, thanks to a delayed penalty, Snow was drawn out of his crease to cut down the angle of the powerplay's attack. The Bruins moved the puck across the net, for an open-net tip-in, but fortunately for New York, a trio of Islanders crowded the crease and Zhitnik blocked the near-goal. As the clock wound down in the second, the Bruins had several point-blank chances on the following powerplay, but were stoned by Snow.
On the wrong end of a 25-12 shot count, the Islanders couldn't get much going to start the third, but neither could the Bruins, as both teams traded turns skating up and down the ice. The deadlock was broken four minutes in, when Mike York hit rookie Chris Campoli with a pass, leading him into Boston's zone. Stepping over the blueline, Campoli unleashed a rocket that beat Toivonen low to his stick side, waking the Coliseum crowd.
The hosts couldn't build on the momentum though, as Arron Asham was called for interference, sending the B's to their fifth powerplay of the night. Some inspired scrambling by Zhitnik and Brent Sopel helped a sprawling Garth Snow keep the Bruins from converting on the opportunity. The Islanders went back on the kill almost immediately, but kept the visitors from setting up much of anything.
Perhaps inspired by their success on the kill, the Islanders went on the attack, tightening the shot difference, but the best chance would go to Boston, who got a pair of 2-on-1s late in the period. Snow stoned Glen Murray first, but was more impressive in keeping Patrice Bergeron off the scoreboard. Covering the shooter, Snow reacted quickly to the late pass, and was able to stretch his right leg just enough to stop Bergeron's deflection from getting by him.
Going the other way, Yashin got a near-breakaway, but flipped the puck just over the crossbar while being slashed from behind. The penalty killed, it was Beantown's captain who would put the puck away, as Thornton took advantage of a delayed penalty and some confusion in front of the Islanders' net, sliding the puck under Snow to tie the game with just over a minute to go.
ICE CHIPS: Three Stars of the Night: 1. Shawn Bates, 2. Janne Niinimaa, 3. Garth Snow... Rick DiPieto (knee), Tomi Pettinen and Eric Godard (healthy scratches) were out of the lineup Tuesday for the Islanders, while goalie Andrew Raycroft (hamstring), right wing Pat Leahy (finger), defenseman Ian Moran (knee) and center Alex Zhamnov (shoulder) were scratched by Boston... Before the game, Yashin was awarded the Islanders Player of the Month award... An early lead is important for the Islanders, who are 4-2 this season when scoring first... Several players tonight have skated for both teams, including Shawn Bates, Tom Fitzgerald, Brad Isbister, Scatchard and Travis Green... Wade Dubielewicz was called up from the Islanders' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, to back-up Snow.
Garth Snow on the team's two goals in the first period:
"The first period we played as well as we had all year. That's the type of hockey we know we can play."
On Thornton's goal to tie the score in the third:
"I made the first save and someone whacked at it. I was able to get my stick on it, but it went the other way."
On the work of the special teams:
"Our penalty killing unit stepped up tonight. We were able to pull it together and stay out of the box."
Shawn Bates on his game winning overtime goal:
"I was put off balance, but I figured to hit the net and hopefully (Jason) Blake would get the rebound, but fortunately it went in."
Oleg Kvasha on the adjustment from moving from winger to center:
"I feel comfortable at center. It's a little adjustment, but I had no problem with it."
On the goal during his first shift:
"I was hoping to get a good shift, but we scored a goal, and that felt great.
(79) Alexei Yashin-(12) Oleg Kvasha-(81) Miroslav Satan
(45) Arron Asham-(29) Petteri Nokelainen-(11) Mattias Weinhandl
(55) Jason Blake-(17) Shawn Bates-(7) Trent Hunter
(21) Robert Nilsson-(16) Mike York-(37) Mark Parrish
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(3) Brent Sopel
(44) Janne Niinimaa-(25) Brad Lukowich
(24) Radek Martinek-(14) Chris Campoli
(30) Garth Snow
(34) Wade Dubielewicz
(14) Sergei Samsonov-(19) Joe Thornton-(37) Patrice Bergeron
(21) Brad Isbister-(26) Brad Boyes-(27)Glen Murray
(11) P.J. Axelsson-(38) Dave Scatchard-(17) Shawn McEachern
(75) Colton Orr-(39) Travis Green-(12) Tom Fitzgerald
(58) Kevin Dallman-(22) Brian Leetch
(44) Nick Boynton-(25) Hal Gill
(71) Jiri Slegr-(41) Andrew Alberts
(33) Hannu Toivonen
(57) Jordan Sigalet