KVASHA WINS IT IN OT
By Kerry Gwydir and Corey Witt
Oleg Kvasha hit the puck out of midair and into the back of the net for the game-winning overtime goal to give the Islanders a 2-1 victory over the Blackhawks in Chicago. Alexei Yashin also scored and Rick DiPietro got the win in net on Tuesday night.
Both teams were given early tries with the man-advantage, but neither could convert. The Isles best chance came when Mike York nearly re-directed a point shot behind Chicago netminder Adam Munro. But his opportunity missed the left post by inches.
Each team posted scoring chances in the latter stages of the opening period. The Isles best opportunity came when Trent Hunter ripped a slapper from the right faceoff dot that Munro fought off with his shoulder with two minutes to go. The Hawks responded with an in-tight try off the counter-attack when Pavel Vorobiev had his stuff attempt rejected by DiPietro.
Alexei Yashin converted on the powerplay with 11:03 to go in the second period, his 16th tally of the season. With Tyler Arnason in the box for hooking, the Islanders' captain ripped a slapper from the left point through a Mark Parrish screen over the shoulder of Munro.
The Hawks attacked on the next shift, and it was DiPietro coming up big with his biggest stop of the game to that point. The Islander netminder stoned Chicago defenseman Jaroslav Spacek of a pointblank wrister with his catch glove that was ticketed for the top portion of the net.
After DiPietro made several key stops late in the period, a penalty to Jason Blake proved costly with three minutes to go in the same period. A poor line change by the Isles allowed Chicago blueliner Jim Vandermeer to skate untouched through center ice and beat DiPietro on the breakaway to knot the contest.
The Islanders killed off an early third period Blackhawks powerplay and then both teams played conservative hockey for most of the frame. The action picked up slightly towards the midway point of the third when Shawn Bates tried to slide the puck into the Chicago net after crossing up Munro. The puck rolled off Bates stick and slid just wide of the net.
With about five minutes remaining in regulation, Chicagos offense came alive by firing off a flurry of shots at the Islanders net. DiPietro kept his team in the game by standing tall in his crease and keeping it a tied game.
With 1:28 remaining in the third, the Islanders went on the powerplay when Mark Bell was sent to the box for a delay of the game puck over the glass penalty. Although they had good movement on the man advantage, the Islanders couldnt get a quality shot towards the net before time ran out in regulation. There were still 31 seconds left on the powerplay heading into overtime, but the Islanders were still unable to get a shot on goal.
With a little over two minutes left in overtime, Brent Sopel sent the puck up the ice to Jason Blake who skated in towards Munro with one defender between him and the net. Blake sent the puck on net, but Munro couldnt control the rebound. Kvasha hit the puck, which was a few inches off the ice, into the back of the net for the game-winner at 3:02.
Prior to the contest, Brad Shaw has made two changes to the Islanders' lineup. He inserted Tomi Pettinen onto the blueline while Brad Lukowich returned to the lineup after missing the past week with a rib injury. Chris Campoli and John Erskine were healthy scratches along with Mattias Weinhandl.
(55) Jason Blake-(79) Alexei Yashin-(45) Arron Asham
(81) Miroslav Satan-(16) Mike York-(7) Trent Hunter
(12) Oleg Kvasha-(17) Shawn Bates-(37) Mark Parrish
(18) Jeff Hamilton-(62) Kevin Colley-(49) Eric Godard
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(3) Brent Sopel
(25) Brad Lukowich-(6) Bruno Gervais
(8) Tomi Pettinen-(24) Radek Martinek
(39) Rick DiPietro
(34) Wade Dubielewicz
(19) Kyle Calder-(39) Tyler Arnason-(16) Radim Vrbata
(28) Matt Bell-(12) Mikhail Yakubov-(22) Martin Lapointe
(20) Andy Hilbert-(34) Jim Dowd-(32) Pavel Vorobiev
(14) Rene Bourque-(17) Michael Holmqvist-(36) Matt Bernaby
(2) Duncan Keith-(5) Jassen Cullimore
(6) Jaroslav Spacek-(23) Jim Vendermeer
(27) Todd Simpson-(8) Anton Babchuk
(30) Adam Munro
(31) Craig Andersson