Rebounds have been a huge part of Brad Shaw's first game as head coach of the Islanders, as Trent Hunter and Miroslav Satan scored off each other's shots to push New York into a 2-2 tie after 40 minutes.
The Shaw era got off to an auspicious start, as the Islanders went down 1-0, just 53 seconds into the first period. Coming down the right boards, Marcus Nilson fired a shot that Rick DiPietro stopped with a leg pad. The rebound went right to the slot though, where Darren McCarty tapped it into open net for his third of the year.
The Islanders came right back a little over a minute later, as Mike York's hard work along the boards in the Flames' zone paid off with a tying goal. Digging the puck free, York fed Miroslav Satan for a one-timer that was stopped by Miikka Kiprusoff. But like with the shot that set up McCarty's goal, the rebound went right to Hunter's stick, setting up a quick shot. Hunter collected the rebound, and deposited his ninth goal of the season over the Flames goalie's catching glove.
After swapping goals, the two teams swapped punches, as physical play led Eric Godard and Chris Simon to drop the gloves. Simon, a 13-season veteran, stripped Godard of his helmet and got some good shots in early in the bout, but Godard returned fire and scored a knock-down, getting in the last punch that took Simon to the ice.
A penalty to Bruno Gervais put the Flames on their first powerplay of the night, and it took them just 19 seconds to put a second goal past DiPietro. Curling off the boards at the blueline, Dion Phaneuf put a wrister on net that Jatome Iginla got a stick on to redirect for his 18th tally of the season. It started a parade to the sin bin for New York, as John Erskine and Kevin Colley were called for interference and roughing as the final minutes wound down, giving the Flames a 5-on-3 powerplay to start the second period.
After the Islanders killed off the remaining time on the penalty kill to start the second period, they had to stave off boredom, as the game was delayed so the Coliseum crew could repair the glass in the corner to Rick DiPietro's right. The down-time seemed to take some of the energy out of the game, as the two teams lacked the jump they showed in the first.
Each team had a chance on the powerplay near the halfway mark, but the alarm went off with five minutes left in the second period, as the Islanders went on the warpath, buzzing around the Calgary zone. New York had several big opportunities, including a precision passing play by Alexei Yashin, Satan and Oleg Kvasha that was stopped by Miikka Kiprusoff, and some skilled stickwork by Hunter. The Flames got in on the action as well, putting some pressure on DiPietro and forcing him to come out to the circles to pick off a loose puck. Despite the chances, neither team could score.
That is, until Satan capitalized on a loose puck in the slot with just 10 seconds left in the period. Hunter used a toe-drag to elude a defender and get an in-tight wrist shot off that caught Kiprusoff off-guard. The rebound bounced out in front of the net, where Satan pounced and one-timed it just inside the far post for a 2-2 tie.
Gervais entered the game with just five games of NHL experience and was in the box for the Flames' second goal, but he made a big play near the top of the third period to keep the game tied at two goals apiece. Calgary's Kristian Huselius snuck behind the Islanders' defense, taking a home-run pass in on DiPietro. With no one between Huselius and the net, Gervais hustled back and put pressure on the shooter, forcing him to take a low-percentage shot that DiPietro stopped without trouble.
After killing off a penalty to Shawn Bates early in the second half of the third period, the Islanders got another man-up opportunity to take the lead, when Arron Asham took a turnover by the Flames' Jordan Leopold in on goal, forcing the defenseman to take him out and earning two minutes in the box. It didn't take long for the locals to take advantage of the edge in manpower, as Yashin fed the puck down low to Satan, who slid it to Mark Parrish in front of the net for the deflection past Kiprusoff.
Bates looked like he would have a breakaway of his own moments later, but as he was stopped by the Flames' defense, the newest Islander, John Erskine, endeared himself to the Coliseum crowd by pummeling Simon at center ice, dropping roundhouse blows that stunned the Calgary tough guy and dropped him to the ice.
As the clocked ticked down, time seemed to stop as DiPietro left his crease to play the puck to the right of his goal. On his way out though, his skate caught on the ice, sending him to his back and leaving the net wide-open as Flames rushed in on him. A heady swipe of his stick moved the puck behind his net and out of danger, maintaining his team's one-goal lead.
OFF THE ICE: Three Stars of the Night: 1. Miroslav Satan, 2. Trent Hunter, 3. Mark Parrish... Frederic Cloutier and Jeff Hamilton were sent to Bridgeport, as Blake and DiPietro were activated from the IR... For the Islanders, Garth Snow (knee), Mattias Weinhandl (healthy), Brad Lukowich (ribs), Tomi Pettinen (healthy) and Petteri Nokelainen (knee) were scratched, while the Flames sat Bryan Marchment (knee), Byron Ritchie (knee) and Roman Hamrlik (knee)... Oleg Kvasha is two points away from his 300th in the NHL...Trent Hunter (114) and Arron Asham (107) are third and fifth in the NHL in hits, respectively... The Flames have a pair of ex-Islanders in Hamrlik and Jason Wiemer, while the Islanders are free of former Flames...The last time the Islanders beat Calgary before Thursday was on the road, on January 15, 2002. The win snapped a six-game losing streak for New York against the Flames on Long Island.
--additional reporting by Brian Bohl
Mark Parrish on new head coach Brad Shaw:
"It's a great day now that it's over. Shaw did a great job running the bench. He was composed and never panicked and kept us up tempo, it was great."
On the significance of holding a late lead:
"We've lost so many games this year by giving up a late goal, so we really wanted to win tonight for our fans and for Shaw. To get that momentum back, we need to carry that through and try to take advantage of it."
Rick DiPietro on the team's next game Saturday against Vancouver:
"We have another great team. It's tough playing the Western Conference. There are more puck possession teams than in the East. We just need to start strong in the first 10 minutes and not panic."
Shaw on the experience of being named the head coach:
"When Mike (Milbury) told me yesterday that Steve (Stirling) wasn't coming back and I was offered the interim job, it was too much for my brain to handle. The emotion involved with a big decision like that takes a lot of thought. It was a crazy day. I tip my hat to the players, it's not easy playing in that environment. I think because I was an assistant, there was more continuity than if I were a fresh face."
On his assessment of the team:
"Our good players were good tonight. Trent Hunter probably played his best 60 minute game of the year. For a long time York, Satan, and Hunter really carried the load for us. We have to put a string of these games together before we can weather the storm."
On working towards a playoff spot:
"On a lot of fronts we did a lot of great stuff. We don't feel like seven points is insurmountable. If we can win seven out of 10 in segments, you can get the energy level up. We want games to be meaningful down the stretch and the guys played like that tonight."
(12) Oleg Kvasha-(79) Alexei Yashin-(37) Mark Parrish
(7) Trent Hunter-(16) Mike York-(81) Miroslav Satan
(55) Jason Blake-(17) Shawn Bates-(45) Arron Asham
(10) Sean Bergenheim-(62) Kevin Colley-(49) Eric Godard
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(3) Brent Sopel
(14) Chris Campoli-(6) Bruno Gervais
(24) Radek Martinek-(44) John Erskine
(39) Rick DiPietro
(34) Wade Dubielewicz
(20) Kristian Huselius-(22) Daymond Langkow-(12) Jarome Iginla
(18) Matthew Lombardi-(27) Steve Reinprecht-(19) Chuck Kobasew
(26) Marcus Nilson-(11) Stephane Yelle-(10) Tony Amonte
(24) Jason Wiemer-(17) Chris Simon-(28) Darren McCarty
(44) Rhett Warrener-(3) Dion Phaneuf
(28) Robyn Regehr-(6) Jordan Leopold
(21) Andrew Ference-(49) Richie Regehr
(34) Miikka Kiprusoff
(30) Philippe Sauve