BATES & SATAN GET TWO EACH; SNOW STARS
By Kerry Gwydir and Chris Botta
A shining performance by Garth Snow in net and two goals each by Shawn Bates and Miroslav Satan helped lead the Islanders to an impressive 7-3 win over the scorching Thrashers tonight in Atlanta.
"Excellent all-around effort, a team effort," said Islanders coach Steve Stirling after the game. "Besides there being too many penalties, I liked everything else about our game."
Leading 4-2 after two periods on goals by Bates, Trent Hunter, Arron Asham and Satan, the Islanders saw their lead cut in half when Jim Slater made it 4-3 early in the third. However, a goal on a mini-breakaway at the end of a power play by Bates -- his seventh of the season, sixth in the last five games -- at 12:47, and power play tallies by Satan (15:49) and Blake (19:32) sealed the deal.
Until the Islanders put it away, Snow was outstanding in goal while making his first start since Nov. 1. He made 39 saves.
"Garth continues to give us great starts after sitting for a while," said Stirling. "His professionalism, his performance are benchmarks for us. He's as important a player as anyone on our roster."
Snow was humble after the game. "It's the goalie's job to fight through the screens and get in position to make saves," he said. As for the always lurking Ilya Kovalchuk, Snow said, "The assistant coaches had me ready for what he does and the dmen did a good job of clearing traffic so I could see his shots."
Snow had to be on his toes less than three minutes into the game when a turnover at the Islander blueline gave Atlanta™s Jim Slater a breakaway. Snow patiently waited out the Atlanta forward and made a superb left leg rejection on the backhand attempt.
The Islanders took a penalty less than a minute in when Shawn Bates was called for tripping. Then, two minutes later, Alexei Yashin was tagged for hooking. Snow came up huge during that penalty kill, as well, when he stopped another break-in. this time, it was Marian Hossa speeding behind the Islander coverage for a prime chance. The Islander goaltender dove across his crease and make a stellar stick stop. On the play, Hossa was charged for charging Hossa on the play as Snow had his helmet knocked off in the process.
The penalty fest continued for both teams soon after. Atlanta would be tagged for its third penalty inside the five-minute mark when Slava Kozlov was penalized for delay of game, thus setting up a 4-on-3, and then a 5-on-3 powerplay for the Isles. Steve Stirling™s team wound up not converting on either chance.
Niinimaa then played a big part in the first goal of the game on the next shift at the 6:26 by setting up Bates™ tap-in tally, his 7th of the season. On the play, Jason Blake curled out from behind the Atlanta net, and then feathered the puck to the left point where Niinimaa was stationed. The defender quickly put the puck towards the net, where Bate broke free of his check from Jaroslav Modry to tap the puck behind goaltender Adam Berkhoel.
Snow continued to be a big reason why the Thrashers were held off the scoreboard in the opener. The veteran continued to deny prime scoring threats, including one where Ilya Kovalchuk made a splendid behind-the-back feed into the slot to the on-coming and unchecked Hossa. The Islander netminder again dove across the crease, flashed out his glove and managed to knock down the in-tight opportunity.
The power play turned out to be a charm for the Isles with 2:47 to go when Trent Hunter scored by knocking a rebound over Berkhoel, his third of the season. Miro Satan started the sequence by quickly whisking the puck to Chris Campoli at the left point, who moved the puck down low to Radek Martinek. The defender put the puck on net, where Hunter got two whacks before potting the tally.
Modry got one back for the hosts at the 7:11 mark when his slapper from the left boards found its way through Snow between the goalie™s arm and chest. The tally was unassisted.
Following another penalty kill by the Isles, spearheaded by several great stops by Snow, Arron Asham made it a two-goal contest, again, with 9:18 to go in the second. The forward ripped a one-timer from the top of the left faceoff dot under the crossbar off a feed from Mattias Weinhandl. Oleg Kvasha started things at the Islander blueline by blocking off an Atlanta dump, which initiated a 2-on-1 into the Thrashers™ end of the ice.
Atlanta answered less than two minutes later as the Isles failed to clear their own zone. Peter Bondra snapped off a wrister from the top of the right faceoff dot that beat Snow over the left shoulder.
Once again, the Isles continued to succeed on special teams or just after a powerplay ended. This time, it was Satan patiently converting the rebound of a Campoli blast as Atlanta™s Andy Sutton left the box. Satan, who was stationed in the high slot, patiently took his time after fielding the long rebound off Berkhoel™s left pad to spin around a rifle his team-leading 10th goal into the top corner of the net.
"I had it on my backhand, but didn't think I could get off a good shot," said Satan. "I thought I had some time, so I waited until I could tee it up. When there is so much traffic in front of the net, the goalie is not looking for a high shot. So I figured I'd go upstairs."
As a result, the Islanders go to Tampa Bay tonight with a three-game winning streak.
Snow was named the game's No. 1 star. Bates was 2 and Slater 3...The Islanders' power play was 3-12. Atlanta played the final five minutes shorthanded because of a bench minor for abuse of officials and three other minors...The Islanders killed off eight Atlanta power plays...
Janne Niinimaa was plus-3 with an assist in 20:42, Brad Lukowich was plus-3 in 19:59...Alexei Zhitnik led the Islanders with seven shots. Chris Campoli and Mike York each had five...
Petteri Nokelainen (knee) and Tomi Pettinen were the Islanders' scratches.
(45) Arron Asham-(79) Alexei Yashin-(37) Mark Parrish
(21) Robert Nilsson-(16) Mike York-(81) Miroslav Satan
(55) Jason Blake-(17) Shawn Bates-(7) Trent Hunter
(49) Eric Godard-(12) Oleg Kvasha-(11) Mattias Weinhandl
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(24) Radek Martinek
(25) Brad Lukowich-(44) Janne Niinimaa
(14) Chris Campoli-(24) Radek Martinek
(30) Garth Snow
(39) Rick DiPietro
(17) Ilya Kovalchuk-(13) Slava Kozlov-(18) Marian Hossa
(12) Peter Bondra-(9) Marc Savard-(23) Jim Slater
(10) Serge Aubin-(16) Bobby Holik-(26) Robert Petrovicky
(19) Scott Mellanby-(29) Brad Larsen-(36) Eric Boulton
(7) Greg DeVries-(44) Jaroslav Modry
(25) Andy Sutton-(28) Niclas Havelid
(2) Garnet Exelby-(34) Shane Hnidy
(33) Adam Berkhoel
(35) Michael Garnett